Cage Match

Posted October 5, 2013

It all started at work. To this day I don’t know why I snapped to Nicolas Cage’s defense, but when an officemate named Mark said he hated him, I felt like a mother whose child just got called stupid.

“Come on!” I said. “Surely you don’t hate Nicolas Cage.”

To say my feeling was maternal would be incorrect…and creepy. I was defending him out of pity. I mean, what did Nic Cage ever to do Mark? I’m sure he’s entertained him at least a couple of times—made him laugh, or cheer, or fear for the safety of the Declaration of Independence.

So I challenged him. “I bet you can readily name three good Nicolas Cage movies off the top of your head, without using the internet.”

“Fine!” said Mark, who then surprised himself by thinking of The Rock, Adaptation, and Raising Arizona.

Jenna sauntered up. “Are you guys talking about Nic Cage?” she asked. “Ugh, he’s the worst.”

“No!” I rebutted. I was on a roll. “If you think about it, I’m sure you can name at least three movies he was in that you like.” After some slight deliberation, she confessed that yes, Gone in 60 Seconds was pretty great and she and her husband enjoyed Face/Off.

To borrow a phrase from H. I. McDunnough, the topic had found “purchase.” It quickly spread throughout the office. Adaptation, Moonstruck, Con Air, Honeymoon in Vegas, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Everyone initially said they hated Nic Cage movies, but after some prodding, it seemed everyone liked at least a few.

I got curious. IMDB has a list of movies in which Mr. Cage is featured as an actor. If you exclude the eight that are in varying stages of production or pending release, there are sixty-seven Nic Cage movies that have been made and are ready to watch. Right now. Like a prolific Hayden Christensen, he floats from film to film. Sometimes straight to video.

Questions started swirling all around me, like an illustration in a shitty ethics textbook. If Nic Cage were really a bad actor, how could he get to be in so many movies? Is he a good actor who says yes too much? Does he just happen to be in a lot of bad movies? Or does he make movies bad?

Who is this man, ubiquitous and enigmatic?

So, starting today, I’m going to watch every Nicolas Cage movie and find out, role for role, shout for shout, explosion for explosion: Is Nicolas Cage a good actor?

I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know what it will do to my sanity. All I know is it’s Cage versus me. Mano a mano. For better or worse.

Welcome to Cage Match.


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