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This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Will Nicolas Cage Ever Appear in a Decent Movie Again?

January 10, 2011

Cage in yet another straight-to-DVD release 2011's 'Season of the Witch'

Reading the blistering reviews of Nic Cage’s latest crapfest Season of the Witch is far more entertaining than heading over to the multiplex to screen the film. Currently, the action adventure film enjoys a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has provided critics ample opportunities to showcase their snark. The film features Cage with some shoddy looking Claire’s Boutique plastic hair extensions and incredibly bad dialog. I could barely get through the preview! More fascinating is how the film enjoys a 55% audience rating. Why are audiences not nearly as repelled by the film as the critics? Even critics who are unabashed Cage fanboys don’t deny the film is utter garbage. What is going on with the once golden actor, whose string of box office straight-to-DVD flops are rivaled only by mid 80s Tom Berenger?

Osmosis Online offered this analysis of Cage’s performance in the thoroughly unwatchable Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans:

It’s the kind of bravura performance that you only get in a really bad movie. It’s so good that it makes the whole movie worth the while, by far the only thing that makes the movie worth the while. And while this film is outside of the Hollywood mainstream, Cage clearly knew that this was the opportunity to ham it up, yuk it up, and go absolutely fucking crazy.

Nicolas Cage is a favorite of mine, yet I am wary of anything after The Rock because I’m afraid of what I will be forced to endure. Like Bruce Willis, I find Cage to be infinitely watchable even when the films themselves are not. That said, I struggle make myself sit through the dreck he’s made of late, even if I’m guaranteed that Cage will chew scenery to powder and turn dreadful stilted dialog into some kind of po-mo performance piece. In the same vein as Bridges and Jackson, Cage has this hypnotic power over me; I am putty in the presence of his films, even as I scoff and snark on them. I don’t care how much smack I talk about an upcoming Cage release – though I don’t actually pay to see them; I have set that boundary – I eventually end up screening it. My love of Cage remains unwavering, despite all the hell his terrible films have put me through. I can’t turn away. I can’t make myself stop seeking out his films in the middle of the night when I need something to keep me company while I fold laundry.

Maybe I’m just a fool; maybe I’m partly to blame for his continued string of film disappointments. I keep watching them after all. In the face of credible evidence I keep going back to Cage’s films thinking I’m going to find another Moonstruck or The Rock among the collection of crimes of against cinema. Being ever the pragmatist I shouldn’t expect Cage to return to the glory days of quality performances in quirky, well-executed films. At this point it feels futile even to hope the films he does opt to star in at least be marginally watchable. How sad is that? Nevertheless, here I am again, reading awful reviews of Season of the Witch, and the most nagging question is oddly not the one posed in the title, but sadly lesser question: how many loads of laundry will I be able to cycle through during its 1 hour and 38 minute running time once the film makes its inevitably swift debut on DVD.

Are you a Cage fan? If so has he exhausted your good will or are you taking his recent cinematic slump in stride?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. hsofia permalink
    January 10, 2011 3:20 am

    When I got to “Tom Berenger” I almost died.

    Hubster’s coworker tried to convince him to go to see “Season of the Witch” but I warned him against it! The 4% Rotten Tomatoes rating is just a sure sign of noooo. I don’t know the 55% of the audience was that rated it fresh – maybe members of the cast and crew?

    I actually did like Cage in Kick-Ass. And Lord of War, and Bringing Out the Dead. Okay, that last movie came out in the 90s, I think. He’s just making SO MANY movies, I don’t understand it. I’ve been told he has serious money problems, so he says yes a lot to pay the bills. Who knows. I certainly can’t make sense of what he’s going for in terms of career-building. I mean, if you are making a movie involving sorcery, treasure, bad FX, and gun-fu, I guess he’s your guy, but I don’t know if that’s really a genre.

  2. January 10, 2011 11:06 am

    When I think back to his past roles in movies like Raising Arizona and Adaptation, it’s hard to reconcile the Nicolas Cage of those movies with the schockmeister he’s become. He really can act if he wants to; maybe he enjoys going over-the-top these days. Or like hsofia said, he’s so broke he can’t say no to any role.

    I wonder if there will be a point that he chooses a role that returns him to Oscar contention, or if he’s destined for mediocre action/fantasy flicks for the rest of his career. I still think he’s capable of being an excellent actor, it might just be a matter if he wants to be. (I think Jim Carrey has some of these same issues. )

  3. eieioj permalink
    January 10, 2011 11:32 am

    I’m still a Nic Cage fangirl. I love his early (read: good) stuff enough that I can’t hate him, plus I think I’m fascinated by things he’s chosen to do. I mean, I OWN his remake of The Wicker Man. And I saw Ghost Rider in the theatre and will watch it just about any time it shows up on FX (which I think Nic Cage secretly’s the only explaination for how often his crummy movies show up on that channel).

    So I’ll wind up seeing Season of the Witch when it gets to the dollar theatre, I’m sure.

    Also, I totally LOLed out loud when I got to the bit about his Claire’s extensions. Because I totally had that thought. Totally.

  4. January 10, 2011 11:39 am

    I’ve seen the Season of the Witch trailer in the theater twice, and both times was surprised at the end that it wasn’t Ghost Rider 2 trailer!

    Given that the dude has been steady making 4 films a year forever, maybe he’s just burnt out and tired, his acting chops need a vacation.

  5. January 10, 2011 11:41 am

    I do highly recommend Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans though. It’s some Herzog you don’t need to put on the to-do list!!

  6. Lani permalink
    January 10, 2011 12:14 pm

    This post cracked me up; I had this exact same conversation with my brother while I was visiting over the holidays. Neither of us can figure it out! Maybe what hsofia said is true and he just can’t turn down anything cause he’s too broke. Or maybe he’s just having buckedloads of fun making terrible movies. Some of my favorite movie watching memories are the terrible ones (Zardoz?? Connery, what were you THINKING) so perhaps some favorite movie making memories are also the terrible ones…? Ok, yeah, I’m probably reaching.

  7. January 10, 2011 12:54 pm

    I think Cage is going to need a fanboy director to save his career, much like Tarantino did for John Travolta’s.

  8. Emmitt permalink
    January 12, 2011 9:27 pm

    I count Nic Cage as my favorite actor. Whenever people ask me if I’m serious, I always answer back with a completely straight face.

    But yes, he has done a lot of crap. A lot. And I am assuming it does have to do with money problems. Last I heard, he has a giant geode in his house that one can sit inside, as well as a T-rex skull.

    Also, Bad Lieutenant really is a gem. Not in a so bad it’s good way, but as an honest to goodness great movie. It’s not an easy movie to explain. I barely know what’s going on with the direct to video vibe and I’ll be damned if I can explain the obsession with reptiles. But Cage shines in it and Herzog remains a great a director as ever.

  9. Val permalink
    January 13, 2011 2:15 am

    Yep, I’m thinking this new one should be enjoyed at home…where my drinks and loud comments cannot annoy those who paid the theatre price. Nicolas Cage in a “historical” pestilence buddy movie with Ron Perlman? It’s going to be awesome!

    I love Nicolas Gage. After Raising Arizona, his face alone made me laugh…for years . I enjoyed watching him in Moonstruck, Bringing out the Dead, Honeymoon in Vegas, Adaptation, Vampire’s Kiss, Kick-Ass. There’s a lot of stuff of his I haven’t watched, but there’s just so much out there. It can be tricky to decipher the bad from the so bad you must watch, with beverages. Which reminds me that I must rent National Treasure one of these days!

    Haven’t quite decided about Bad Lieutentant. Herzog doesn’t always work for me. I haven’t been able to watch Grizzly Man either..

    I haven’t given up Cage by any means. I will watch his best bad stuff and hope that one day he’ll will surprise me with something good.

  10. hsofia permalink
    January 13, 2011 4:42 am

    @Emmitt – wow, how strange – a giant geode and dino skull… I heard from a friend that Cage showed up at an auction and bought like a truckload of trilobites. Maybe he’s an amateur paleontologist?

  11. January 13, 2011 6:39 am

    Cage has a generous heart. I know that from first hand experience and it extends to the way in which he conducts himself in films. He doesn’t seem to have huge ego and I suspect he’s probably great on the set. Couple that with his alleged money woes and you have a perfect storm of ill fated project choices. Even though this post is a bit cheeky, I really want Cage to come out the other side of this. If Caine can do it, so can Cage.

  12. hsofia permalink
    January 19, 2011 12:27 am

    Perhaps the answer to the OP question lies somewhere in this video:


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