I have a very deep, dark secret.
I think Nic Cage is perhaps the most awesomest actor to ever live.
Where do I begin with this guy? I suppose there’s the obvious fact that the internet loves him and wants to put his face on everything. I can get behind that kind of absurdity. There’s also the fact that he’s a huge comic book nerd (fun fact: his real name is Nicholas Coppola [yes, those Coppolas], but he took his screen name from the Marvel superhero Luke Cage) and has starred in such memorable films as Ghost Rider and… um…
Actually, he hasn’t starred in any good superhero movies.
But don’t let that stop you from admiring his insanity. Even when he’s appeared in other films, he’s always fun to watch.
Take, for example, the inimitable Vampire’s Kiss. This movie’s one that when Rachael and I went to rent it at our video store, we had trouble finding it because we’d read that it was a very bad movie, but it was hilariously bad. So naturally, we expected it to be in the drama or horror section. No, our video store classified it as a comedy. That’s like how Tommy Wiseau changed how he billed The Room after he realized that everyone was laughing at it. You can laugh at Vampire’s Kiss, but it’s apparent while you’re watching that this was an attempt to make a serious film. Unfortunately, that attempt fell flat on its face. Fortunately, the film has Nic Cage at his cagiest, with fantastic scenes including a manic recitation of the entire alphabet, a frantic run through the streets of New York yelling, “I’m a vampire!” and the ingestion of a live cockroach. It’s a mixed bag, because when it’s over you’ll see that the filmmakers were trying to do something interesting, but the execution’s just all around awful.
In contrast to the strangeness of Vampire’s Kiss, Nic Cage has been in more recent gems like Season of the Witch where he stars alongside Ron Perlman as ex-Crusaders who are tired of fighting holy wars, and just want to be left alone when they get forcibly recruited to escort a girl who’s accused of being a witch to a secluded monastery where an order of monks will decide what to do with her. The plot’s nothing terribly exciting, but in contrast to Vampire’s Kiss where Nic’s giving it everything he’s got, here he’s as deadpan as possible. My favorite scene is one where he’s sitting around a campfire with his companions telling the story of how he and his buddy Felson (Perlman) got recruited into the Crusades. A priest promised them forgiveness of certain sins for so many years of service (like adultery, three years, or drunkenness, one year) and then Cage says with absolutely no inflection as the punchline to the story, “Then you better sign me up for ten.”
And then he smiles and nods like it was the best delivery he’s ever given. And maybe in Cage-land, it is.
Although these two films are at more or less opposite ends of the Nic Cage spectrum, neither of them are the winners of the movie marathon that was Nicolas Cage Match (with a title like that, Rachael and I knew that we had to declare a winner in order for it to be legitimate). For what it’s worth, Con Air is, objectively, the best Nicolas Cage movie ever made (which is saying something, because there are a lot of those; there might be more Nicolas Cage movies than there are plain old movies). Besides being a legitimately good action movie, it also features Nic as a rather lovable ex-Army Ranger from Alabama (his Southern accent is fantastically awful!) who just wants to go home to see his wife and daughter. His best line: “Put the bunny back in the box.” I can’t stress enough how good this movie is.
And it seems like he’s on target to repeat this magic formula, since he’ll be playing Rayford Steele in the upcoming reboot of the Left Behind franchise. He’s a guy! On a plane! With a disaster happening!
What’s not to love?