As it turns out, I’m a sensitive guy. I remember watching my favorite movie of all time with all the men in my family: my Dad, my older brother, Nathanael, and my cousin, Derek. I was, by far, the youngest man in the room at the age of 12. This was before Nathanael had met his wife, before Derek had committed his life to God, before my Dad re-married, and before I grew hair on my chest. Unfortunately, some things never come around the mountain after all. We were all sprawled out on our two tattered couches, L-position, in the den, and our beautiful mutt, Nala, was laying on the floor. The movie started and the signature introduction for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie struck a flash in the room. Then the now cliché Bruckheimer music kicked in and Ed Harris started to put his medals on and explain to his dead wife why he was about to do something drastic. Military men began to attack a military compound to steal VX poison gas rockets, and suddenly I had to pee.
“Jon, you want us to pause it for you?” my Dad asked as I walked out, knowing that typically I do.
“No, I’ve seen it plenty of times,” I answered.
So I went and sat on the toilet for a bit. I made sure it took a few minutes and I came back at just the right time. Nicolas Cage was now a part of the movie, which meant I had successfully skipped the scene where a guy’s face melts off because he’s trapped in a room with VX poison gas. Derek noticed something fishy.
“Did you really have to pee?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said sheepishly.
“Aw, Jonny can’t take the blood.” he gibed with a big smile on his face, kind of like a real jerk.
“Hey,” my Dad said in his attorney voice, “Jon’s sensitive. He doesn’t have to watch that part if he doesn’t want to.”
Nathanael looked at me and grinned, and Nala just laid there like a stupid dog. How they all figured me out so easily I’ll never know! It’s possible I was, and still am, in denial about being a pansy. My mom used to tell me that I was such a sensitive baby. All she and my Aunt had to do was smile at me and I’d laugh. Then they would quickly switch to frowning faces and I would immediately start to cry. So, was my sensitivity nurtured by a sick pair of half-Nicaraguan sisters that got their kicks from playing with a baby’s emotions like a marionette plays with a doll? Or is it my nature? I had some strange nurturing, come to think of it. Apparently, my uncle used to put bourbon on his finger when I was a baby and I’d suck on it to fall sleep. No wonder I can’t sleep sober.
I’d like to take this opportunity to tap into my nurtured sympathy and I’d like to go to bat for a very misunderstand artist, just like my Dad did for me when we watched him star in my former favorite film. I have always been and remain a Nicolas Cage fan, and not because he named his son Kal-El, Superman’s Kryptonian name. But I’m in the minority; Nicolas Cage is a polarizing actor. For some reason, he just rubs people the wrong way. Ask anyone about Nicolas Cage and they’ll probably make a slightly disgusted face, like they’ve just seen a dirty diaper. And somehow, he’s still incredibly famous. This is even more fascinating in light of his recent dubious career choices over the last five years. The former Oscar Award winner (Best Actor, Leaving Las Vegas) and Oscar Award nominee/deserver (Best Actor, Adaptation )has put together a terrifying string of poor lead roles. To name a few: Ghost Rider, Next, Bangkok Dangerous, The Wicker Man, Knowing, Season of the Witch, National Treasure 2 (3 on the way), and finally, the cherry on top coming out soon to a theater near you, Drive Angry 3D. Now, maybe you liked one of those movies. Knowing wasn’t that bad. National Treasure 2 was fun, right? But on average, these movies are bad, really bad, B-Movie-bad. Somehow Nic is still churning them out. Usually bad movies eventually spell an end to an acting career, but, oddly, he’s not fading away.
Here’s the rub: he needs money. The guy owes almost 7 million dollars in federal income taxes. He is facing multi-million dollar lawsuits from a prominent bank and another from an investment firm. He’s had homes foreclosed, and he was forced to sell his island. Read it straight from the horse’s mouth (wikipedia): Shortly after selling his German castle, Cage also put homes in Rhode Island, Louisiana, Nevada, and California, as well as a $7 million island in the Bahamas, up for sale. Once a player at the top of his game, an artist at the zenith of his craft; a cheetah at breakneck speed across a sprawling plain; Cage is trapped, forced to turn his artistry into business. Once the king of a dozen castles, St. Nic is now the servant to one master: debt. Here’s where I can identify with Nicolas Cage. I’m an intern for the second time in my life, but I’ve moved down the corporate ladder this time. Two and a half years ago, I was Head “King” Intern; I had 11 underlings in two different states. I lived at the fully-furnished Learfield corporate apartment, slept in a bed fit for a king (king-size), and had Eddie Bauer slippers. I drove to work in style: 1991 Honda Accord LX, complete with a sport button on the gear shift for increased acceleration. Fast-forward two and a half years to another internship in a more expensive setting, Washington DC. Now, I’m at the bottom of the corporate food chain, I sleep on a borrowed air mattress underneath borrowed blankets, and I have no car. I walk 30 minutes to work… in America. Does that sound right to you?
The biggest argument against Nic, however, has always been that he’s just not a good actor. Here are the movies you need to see so that you know Nic’s still got it, or if you never thought he had it in the first place, here’s why he’s always had it:
- Raising Arizona – I hope the Coen Brothers and Cage team up again some day.
- Moonstruck – Romantic comedy magic
- Matchstick Men – along with As Good As it Gets, the best portrayel of OCD I’ve ever seen.
- Adaptation – Nic plays twins in this one. He’s hilarious at times and heart-breaking at others.
- The Weather Man – A bit depressing and crass, but Nic plays a guy at the end of his rope well.
- Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans – great performance, but dirty. Careful, kids.
- Kick-Ass – Nic plays a quirky, nice guy, who’s secretly a super hero out for revenge. Raising his daughter to be a fighter and weapons specialist is too funny.
Notice, I didn’t even mention his oscar-winning role. (or, arguably, the greatest 3 films in two years any actor as ever done (1996-1997): The Rock, Face-Off, and Con-Air. Hello?) Adaptation is one of my favorite movies of all time; if you see just one of these movies, see that. As for the recent string of bad movies, I think Nicolas Cage ought to be praised for biting the bullet and risking his reputation to work his way out of debt. Sometimes you have to drudge through the cold to work until you get the car, constantly thanking your wonderful girlfriend for lending you hers along the way; and there just might come a time when you have to thank God for a good job in a terrible economy; you just might have to burn DVDs for a living today so you can get the job you want tomorrow; and you might have to lower yourself to an air mattress so that one day you can jump into a real bed. Sometimes you have to put in the time so you can support a family one day, so you can give Kal-El a quality life, so you can watch an action movie with him and go to bat for him when he gets made fun of. Because who knows, Kal-El might turn out to be a sensitive guy.
Come on, he’s just so endearing.