Some Reasons Why Nicolas Cage Is Actually Awesome

Nicolas Cage is sort of like the Great White Shark of the film industry; he is commonly referred to in a negative light, he seems to pop up (with negative results) all summer and his cinematic feeding frenzies are something that we can’t turn away from.  Mark my words: if (and when) there is ever a Nicholas Cage Week on Animal Planet you better believe we are all tuning in.  Don’t pretend like you wouldn’t; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance would never have come out if tons of people hadn’t seen Ghost Rider.

A couple days ago I saw someone on Facebook complaining about how stupid Cage’s next movie looks.  To be fair, I could only watch about half the trailer before I turned it off (something about him hacking into the Homeland Security Database hit me in a really emotional way) and, yes, it looks terrible.  However, the thing everyone seems to forget about Nick Cage when they are laughing about The Wicker Man remake or Bad Lieutenant: I Can’t Believe There is Actually More to this Title is that Nicolas Cage hasn’t always been in bad movies!  In fact, he isn’t even a bad actor (always)!

Need proof?  Read some words I wrote!

Adaptation (2002)

Super-weird-artsy-but-extremely-talented director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are, some of the best music and skate videos ever) teamed up with super-weird-artsy-but-extremely-talented screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich) to make this critically acclaimed flick starring none other than Nicolas Cage.

Before I dive into the movie itself maybe I should take a second to point out a few of Cage’s co-stars?  How about Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and unanimously voted best actress of all time Meryl “the dingo ate my baby” Streep?

So what makes Cage so special in this film?  Well first of all he plays the two main characters.  That’s right, in this film you get twice the Cage and it isn’t Face/Off.  Second, the two main characters happen to be Charlie Kaufman (the guy who wrote the movie) and his real brother Donald.  The guy wrote the film about himself and then agreed that only Mr. Cage could perfectly encapsulate his complex personality.  The best thing is: he was right!  Adaptation has a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert claimed it was one of the decade’s finest films and Nicolas Cage was NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR.  Almost makes you want to re-watch Con-Air, right?

It’s okay to say no.

National Treasure (2004) (No, seriously, hear me out)

Okay, you can stop rolling your eyes, I get it.  This movie has become sort of joke recently, probably because of Andy Samberg’s impressions of it on Saturday Night Live.  The thing is I get a sneaking suspicion that everyone only hates this movie because Cage is in it in the first place.  It’s actually not a horrible movie.  I mean, it’s basically Indiana Jones but set in America, the world’s greatest nation!  It’s a fun, mindless, adventure movie that you can sort of just put on and zone out to.  If you take it too seriously then, yeah, I guess you’re going to snicker at how a historian and his geeky friend manage to steal the freaking Declaration of Independence during a Gala where the Secret Service is hanging out but I also think it is important to mention that this is one of the only movies where the Knights Templar are part of the plot but don’t have a retarded purpose (taking over the world, something something Jesus’ baby).  They just really liked money!  And who can blame them?  I mean, isn’t that always Cage’s motivation too?

Kick-Ass (2010)

I’m only going to briefly cover this one because I didn’t like it as much as everyone else.  This is more of an example of a role that Cage was in that I loved, not a movie.  His portrayal of the brutal vigilante/horrible father (aptly named “Big Daddy”) could have been clichéd and terrible on accident but instead Cage decided to make it purposefully clichéd and terrible which, in turn, made it awesome.  Imagine if Adam Smith’s Batman sliced bad guys to ribbons and you pretty much have Big Daddy.  How could that be bad?

Answer: it couldn’t be.

Rumble Fish (1983)

Did you know that Nicolas Cage is related to the Coppola family?  As in Francis Ford Coppola (director/writer of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather series and… Jack), Sofia Coppola (director/writer of Lost in Translation), Roman Coppola (who writes all of Wes Anderson’s recent movies) and Jason Schwartzman (who is awesome).  Well he is and as a young aspiring actor his uncle Francis put him in Rumble Fish, a film adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s classic novel about greasers and angst (think The Outsiders but much more brutal).  The movie is a dark look at troubled youth filmed in beautiful black and white.  Also Tom Waits is in it.

Raising Arizona (1987)

This film might be the reason I even wrote this article.  This is one of the greatest movies ever.  I don’t have enough good things to say about this movie.  I can only organize my thoughts using bullet points:

  • It is directed by the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men, the list goes on).
  • There is an entire scene devoted to stealing diapers from a liquor store and the music in the background is a bluegrass yodeling ballad.
  • Nicolas Cage’s character’s name is “Hi” and he looks like this:
  • John Goodman yells a lot for no reason.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Bet you didn’t remember he was in this!  Well… neither did I until I went on and read it.  Here’s a picture of him to prove it:

Not convinced that Cage is awesome?  Remember the wish list I wrote last week for The Expendables 3?  Well guess who is actually really rumored to be in this upcoming release?  Answer:

Any other Cage films that you demand be seen?  Want to tell me how stupid I am?  Like seeing your words on a website?  Comment!

Songs listened to while writing this: “Funky Cieli (Bridie’s Song) by Black 47, “Evening Kiss” by Willis Earl Beal, “Uprising” by Muse, “Alcohol” by Beck, “Sexx Laws” by Beck, “Rocky” by The Lonely Island, “Take it Easy” by Surfer Blood, “The Look” by Metronomy.


5 thoughts on “Some Reasons Why Nicolas Cage Is Actually Awesome

  1. Try as i might to resist, I’ve resolved that i’ll probably be commenting frequently, as i’ll also be reading frequently. Having the opportunity to feign a conversation with you again is simply too good to pass up.

    Now tyler, you’re a smart guy but you’ve somehow missed three of his top five movie/performance combos that make this a slam-dunk case for cage:

    1) lord of war

    2) matchstick men

    3) the rock

    I actually would consider myself somewhat of a cage fan, which makes Tom shutter and spit up blood, but that’s the way I like it.
    Also, gone in sixty seconds should be mentioned.

  2. You know, I can’t really argue with anything that Josh said… I actually liked Gone in 60 Seconds, Lord of War, and the Rock. Big omissions in this article, I would have to agree.

    I really liked your arguments about National Treasure. I really do think that it is more often than not disliked by the general populace mainly because Cage is in it.

    What has always gotten me about Cage is that he either has no foresight while reading a script, or really just doesn’t give a crap about his public perception as an actor. Otherwise, maybe he just has a Creed/Nickelback type of mentality of taking himself more seriously than the public takes him. In fact, as a case study, Cage and Creed/Nickelback share many common denominators: a certain “love ‘em or hate ‘em, but nothing in between” aspect to their work, a few good artistic achievements generally overlooked through the course of their career, and others. For the record, I’m drawing my ideas about Creed and Nickelback from a wonderful Grantland piece (It wouldn’t be a response from me without a link to Grantland, right?) written by Chuck Klosterman. Here’s a worthy excerpt from said article (a highly recommended read, by the way):

    “The music of Creed is powerful. That’s not necessarily the same as “good,” but it’s something. They perform a simple trick on (seemingly) every track: A song will open with an uncomfortably subdued constriction that abruptly drops into a pulverizing wave of melodic distortion, instantly generating a hyper-real level of drama that can only be discounted if you consciously pre-decide to view the technique as preposterous. This is the central potency of the band’s songwriting, but also its downfall. The key to being appreciated by pop critics is the act of taking your own music less seriously than the people who adore it (Stephen Malkmus is probably the best contemporary example). Creed seems to exemplify the opposite. Creed seems to take itself more seriously than its own fan base does, which makes logical (but not practical) sense.” (full article here:

    My theory on Cage is that he views his career much like Klosterman paints Creed as viewing their craft here. There’s a certain formula that works, and I’m going to go for it, regardless of what people think. Honestly, I have to respect that mentality.

    Does that mean I like him now? Hell no.

  3. I have to admit that as much as I make fun of Nick Cage I have seen a ton of stuff. His body is very diverse and asks some very though provoking questions.

    1. Gone in 60 Seconds. I have possibly seen this movie more than any other movie in my life and I still quote it to this day. It has a pretty decent cast and is just plain fun. It isn’t exactly art but it does put forward the philosophical question; what do you like more? Having sex or boosting cars? My answer to that is of course, two rogers don’t make a right hahahah.

    2. Bringing Out the Dead. This actually wasn’t too shabby of a flick. It was also the last movie to be released on the Laser Disc format so that has to be worth some points.

    3. Wicker Man. I regret to inform the bloggers that I saw this movie in theatre. Yes yes I know. Stop laughing. Please. Seriously though. This movie was terrible….but it was also funny. I think I was the only person in the theatre laughing uncontrollably when Nick was running around in a bear costume knocking out women with one punch. That alone was worth my $10.50. Wicker man also provides for us one of the most usable clips of all time. The bee helmet scene. Which brings up another philosophical question. What would be worse? The Boo Box from Hook that Glenn Close gets put in or the bee helmet from Wickerman?
    The second clip is the infamous “Boo Box”

    The Family Man. This is one of the most horrifying movies ever made. Not horrifying as in bad. It is downright scary. In this one Nicky Boy is a powerful businessman in Manhattan. He has everything. Kick ass apartment. Ferrari. Maid. And a door guy. He wakes up hung-over and doesn’t even have to clean up his own mess. Seriously this guy lives the life. Then Don Cheadle comes out of nowhere as the token thuggish yet insightful black guy and transforms his life completely. All of the sudden Cage has approximately 32 children that vary in age from crapping their pants to the overly smart and articulated 7 year old. His job sucks (he sells tires), his clothes suck (sweat pants), his marriage sucks (he was trying to cheat on his wife), and he drives a minivan. We get to watch an hour and a half of Mr. Coppola stumbling and fumbling through diaper changing and grocery shopping. The only thing he wants this entire movie is to go back to his old life that kicks ass. Finally, at the end of the movie he is whisked away to his old awesome life by Don Cheadle just as he is starting to get used to and even like his new crappy life. So I am thinking the world is back where it should be now. It was just some terrible nightmare. But No! Nick blows off a huge deal(idot) to go make a speech at the airport to his lost love who is apparently flying away forever(idiot!!!) Like France doesn’t have phones dude! Close the deal you butt-horn then fly to France and get the babe back. Anyways, I digress. At the end of this giant nightmare he likes the crappy life! He has been successfully brainwashed by Don Cheadle to be like every other miserable lower middle class American. This movie gives me the cold sweats. It is absolutely horrifying.

    As I have proven, Cage’s work is very diverse and thought provoking. He goes from straight up action movies to psychological thrillers and even cerebral flicks(whatever that means). I will agree that many of his movies are crap and deserve the flack they catch but I think credit should be given where credit is due. We should make fun of movies like Leaving Las Vegas where he literally chugs till death with a hooker and praise his gems like the Rock because anything with Sean Connery is gold as far as I am concerned. Womack!

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