Returning to B-List Actor Thursday (though technically the actor below is A-list…Lord knows why)
Nicolas Cage is a bad actor.
There is no way around that.
Or as one friend puts it, “Nicolas Cage is the idiot savant of acting”.
Sometimes it’s painful to watch Nicolas Cage.
Sometimes you feel uncomfortable for him. Embarrassed. Angry. Horny.
Sometimes you find yourself pant-less staring at pictures of Nicolas Cage with no shirt on and bad hair plugs and….
Nicolas Cage is such a bad actor that when I tried discussing this fact with my father, he felt that Nicolas Cage is bad enough not to warrant a discussion about how bad he is.
“But hear me out, Pop. Nicolas Cage is so bad that he’s good. When he plays serious roles, he can’t do it. But when he plays over-the-top characters- he’s f’ing James Dean or Brando! You following me?”
“Sure,” my father said in the same tone he indulged me in as a child when I talked incessantly in the same manner about Paul Reubens and Crispin Glover.
Let’s think about this for a second: being so bad at a craft that you’re deemed as awesome. We all know that Van Damme, Hasselhoff, Seagal have made careers out of it. Hell, Nicolas Cage has made more movies (65) than years he has been on this planet (46), so obviously he’s doing something so wrong that it’s right.
However, Cage has surpassed the Van Dammes and the Seagals and somehow has straddled the line between respected actor and the butt of so, so many jokes. So what is about Nicolas Cage that has won over audience, producers, and studio executives for decades?
Well, for one, it doesn’t hurt to have the last name Coppola. Sure he changed his name early in the game, but every knows that his uncle directed one of the top 2 greatest American movies of all time. Regardless of his acting ability, Cage got his foot in the door simply based off of this one word. However, Cage got that foot in the door, and like an unleashed leopard, just kept walking. Nobody slapped his ass and told him to get lost and said, “Look at that little Coppola running all the way home!” Nope. Somehow that dude endured and has been able to churn out mediocre hit after mediocre hit.
The ultimate secret to Nicolas Cage is that he’s good at playing four different archetypes: 1.) The Crazy Person 2.) The Elvis Impersonator 3.) The Redneck and 4.) The Nerd. Sometimes he combines 2 or more of the characters into one and then we’re really in for a treat. The other archetypes that he plays: 1.) Rouge Cop 2.) Action Hero 3.) Family Man 4.) Love Interest- he ain’t so good at.
In short, Crazy Nerdy Redneck Elvis Impersonator= Good.
Rouge Action Husband Dad Lover= Not Good.
Below are some of my favorite Nicolas Cage films and the corresponding archetypal character he plays.
What is your favorite Nicolas Cage movie?
Valley Girl (The Nerd)-
Valley Girl was Nicolas Cage’s first featured movie role. He was 19 when it came out in theaters. He played a punk kid from Hollywood that falls in love with an uptight girl from The Valley. That’s about the entire plot of the movie.
Why he was so likable: Not only did he nail the awkward way teenagers try to act cool, he shaved his chest hair in the shape of a “V”. That alone wins points all around. It also predates when his hair started to thin and get all wonky.
Peggy Sue Got Married (The Nerd and The Elvis Impersonator)-
At 22, Nicolas Cage played both the middle-aged and teenage version of Peggy Sue’s (Kathleen Turner) husband, Charlie. The middle-aged version was unhappy in his marriage, the teenage version wanted to be a singer and was full of hopes and dreams.
Why he was so likable: Mostly because of Cage’s delivery of, “You mean my ha-waaang?” when Peggy is rubbing ol’ “Lucky Charlie” in the car. Unfortunately I could only find this video below of the scene. You have to fast forward to 4:24. Again, Cage really nails the awkward teenager trying to be cool. Maybe because he was an awkward 22 year-old trying to be cool. The hair, the overbite, and the voice make for this one of my favorite Nicolas Cage characters.
Raising Arizona (The Redneck and The Crazy Person)-
Cage was really on a role in his early 20’s. At 23, Cage played probably one of his most respected roles- H.I. McDunnough. McDunnough, afte rbeing released from jail, marries a barren cop and together they steal a baby.
Why he is so likable: For some reason, Cage just nailed this role. You truly believe that Cage came from a trailer out in the wastelands of Arizona and not from Hollywood royalty. Cage looks like he was born to don a mustache and wife beater. When he see Cage you can just smell him and you immediately want to go take a bath. A trait that Cage has always been good at? Making you, the viewer, feel uncomfortable.
Wild at Heart (The Elvis Impersonator)-
This was Cage’s first and only David Lynch feature and I guess Lynch really wanted him for the role. Based off of the book, “Wild At Heart”, by Barry Gifford, the movie follows the love story and road trip of Sailor Ripley and Lula Fortune (Laura Dern).
Why he is so likable: I’m not going to lie, Nicolas Cage is kind of sexy in this film. I can see why Laura Dern breathes heavily around him in every seen. The way he says, “Pee-nut”, to his lady and his amazing karate dance moves can just make a girl week in the knees. “Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represent a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?” Something about that line just seemed so personal. Cage does whatever the hell he wants.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call- New Orleans (The Crazy Person)-
Holy crappola! I saw this movie a few days ago and was completely blown away. Cage plays a cop in post-Katrina New Orleans who goes off of the deep end while trying to solve a murder. In the short span of the movie, Cage’s character likes to indulge in gambling, drugs, hookers, and cutting off oxygen supply to old ladies.
Why he is so likable– This movie is the perfect example of not being able to tell if Cage is doing a horrible or brilliant acting job. He calls and old lady a c*nt and pulls out her oxygen mask! Then tells her that she’s a nuance to her family and America, all the while twitching and limping and pop-eyed. The other thing about this movie is you can’t tell if Cage looks like a mess because of his character or if he just looks like a mess. His doughy face is caked in make up and his strawy hair plugs are starting to join forces with those of John Travolta. If Travolta and Cage did Face Off again, we wouldn’t be able to tell who is who anymore.
I sincerely hate Nicolas Cage.
with a fiery passion.
I refuse to watch his movies (I also feel this way about Tim Allen BUT for completely different reasons.).
People think its funny to tell me we are watching one thing and then trap me and force me to watch the God awful stylings of Nic Cage.
Valley Girl and Peggy Sue Got Married are perfect. Anything else Nicolas Cage is in doesn't matter.
I think Nick Cage is the worst. In fact, I did a blog post solely on my confusion about his successful acting career.
In my opinion, Face/Off, Kick-Ass and Con Air should be added to that list. Because he either overdid or underdid the acting so much that it wasn't even really considered acting. It was just…Nicolas Cage.
I included this video of the "10 Most Bizarre Nicolas Cage Moments Ever to Hit the Screen" on my blog post about hating Nick Cage. Thought you might enjoy. Or not enjoy.
You never cease to crack me up! "Honeymoon in Vegas" is pretty good, or maybe its bad but I liked it. And it was the one and only time I could stand to watch Sarah Jessica "horseface", I mean Parker.
i hope you've seen this.
WICKER MAN. 'nuff said.
I HATE Nicolas Cage with a fiery passion too!
And I've always felt bad about it because there's really no reason.
You have a good point that 'Peggy Sue' was good. But anything after… NO WAY.
I couldn't even get past the first few minutes of Adaptation, and I heard it's good. Just couldn't STAND to see his face.
I'm so mad right now all of us a sudden. Filled with HATEFUL RAGE. Better go.
I only know a handful of Nick Cage movies, but I know I was always creeped out by the weird face-touching thing he did in Face/Off. Also, his work with digital bees is amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo
Hahaha I couldn't agree more. How he even still gets movie roles is beyond me. How he even got started baffles me even more. Although doesn't it have to do with his uncle being Coppola? Hmmm.
But yeah, really happy to see that I'm not alone on this one. 😛
His chest hair in Valley Girl stole the show! Really! It's all I can look at when he's on camera!!
What no national treasure part 1 or 2?
Bad Lieutenant shocked me too, he looks like he really did do a lot of cocaine to make that movie. The only instance of Nick Cage ever method acting.
What about "Leaving Las Vegas?" That's a good Nicolar Cage movie.
@Ella- You are very much not alone. It appears that subsequent followers said the same thing. I didn't realize Nic Cage evoked that much hatred. 🙂
@Claire- HA. What about Raising Arizona and Wild at Heart?!
@Nicole- Ha! I can't wait to check out your posts.
@Minky- Don't get me started on SJP. I get compared to her all the time and I want to punch people in the face when they say that.
@Blount- Yes, I have and it's brilliant. Haven't checked it out in awhile though.
@Girluntitled- Shamefully, I have yet to see that movie though I have seen excellent Youtube videos displaying the best scenes. Out of context the movie looks ridiculous. Or is it just ridiculous?
@Laurenne- Damn, Laurenne. That's some cold shit right there.
@Lugggzzz- I watched that yesterday and laughed my ass off! I need to check out Wicker Man.
@Jennifer- I agree, I think a lot of it has to do with being a Coppola. Ok, maybe all of it.
@Tsaritsa- I'm glad I'm not the only one. It's mesmerizing!
@Christopher- Ever seen Leaving Las Vegas. I believe I read he was pretty much wasted throughout the whole movie.
@Todd- You are very right. I think there are some very good Nicolas Cage movies. In addition to the ones I enjoy below, I think he is wonderful in Moonstruck and Leaving Las Vegas. He has his moments. He's just overall not a great actor.
Many of my favorite things are so bad that they are good. And I know a lot of people just really don't like Nic Cage at all, but, hey, I kinda do. Not a lot of his new movies though. I like vintage Cage.
A personal favorite of mine is "Leaving Las Vegas" when he was just too drunk to act. Or too bad to act drunk? Not sure!
I hate him. And it's hard for me to say/write that, because I realize how harsh that sounds.
But I CANNOT watch him. He makes my brain hurt and I want to punch things.
However, I loved "him" on SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy:
So true. So, so, so undeniably true.
@Christina- I totally agree. His earlier stuff is better because that's when he played wackier characters. He is not bad at comedy. It's drama that he's horrible at and they keep giving him dramatic movies.
@Hautemess- HAHA! Your comment made me laugh out loud. He was pretty awesome in that. I need to watch that movie again.
@Jessica- Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL was so good. One of the best skits!
"He calls and old lady a c*nt and pulls out her oxygen mask! Then tells her that she's a nuance to her family and America"
i hate it when things require more than 2 seconds to figure out. so does the rest of america.
I like him, kind of a lot.
I understand your hatred for him. I feel it too.
I have an ever larger level of loathing for Will Ferrel though. I just want to kill myself every time I see him. He's not even so bad it's good, he just makes me cringe!
I have to admit, I like him. Like you said, in his over the top roles, but also the action roles. His accent in ConAir, often ridiculed, runs so close to my own that I find myself trying to mimic it throughout the film.
@LisaK- Yay! A commenter who likes him! So many hate him!
@Cait- I actually don't hate Nicolas Cage. I maybe did a bad job of conveying my like for him. I think he's so bad, that he's good. I actually like how bad he is.
@Randall- I actually remember liking that movie. I need to see it again. Great cast.
Moonstruck and Family Man. I love Nic Cage. It seems like most of the people dislike him on here.
He seems honest with his work which makes him so funny.I`m guessing hes a hard worker..Maybe that's also a reason why hes still making movies.
Oh yes, Raising Arizona and Peggy Sue Got Married. I've never seen Wild At Heart. I am going to netflicks it now.
I dislike Nicolas Cage.
But this is a brilliant, brilliant observation. You are SO right.
i think ya'll have completely missed the mark on Nic Cage – he is actually quite a talent. The fact that you left our Vampire's Kiss makes it clear that you are not "getting him". I could give a shit less about his later movies.
Ah, my mistake!
I must have misread it!
I don’t even know how I finished up right here, however I believed this post was once great. I do not realize who you might be but definitely you are going to a well-known blogger in case you aren’t already. Cheers!
I know it had a contrived ending, but I loved him in City of Angels. I loved the other cast members, too.