Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant remake starring Nicolas Cage opens this week, and somehow defying everybody's expectations, it is getting good reviews. I haven't seen it yet, but I understand the new movie is less the soul-crushing character study the original was, and more in the vein of Nicolas Cage just being crazy Nicolas Cage in a cop movie. He's played that role many, many times before, to sometimes entertaining and sometimes dreadful effect, and while the man has his fans and his handful of quality films, subtlety is not exactly his acting style. In honor of Nicolas Cage doing crazy action guy well for the first time in years, let's remember his most over-the-top roles to date.
The Wicker Man
There's no funnier Nicolas Cage than frantic, over-acting, searching for a child kidnapped by a honey-obsessed cult Nicolas Cage. Well, besides dressed up as a bear for a parade Nicolas Cage, punching Ellen Burstyn in the face out of nowhere Nicolas Cage, and bees poured into his helmet Nicolas Cage. Those were all very, very funny too.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Ahh, Captain Corelli. He sure loved that teeny tiny little guitar. Almost as much as he loved the Super Mario Bros. School of Dialects, where he received his diploma for "Authentic Italian Talking" prior to making this film.
Arguably the most over-the-top Nicolas Cage performance ever, from the opening scene in which he prances around in public pretending to conduct a church choir (complete with '90s booty dancing), then violates one of its teen members for no reason, to that whole "suck my tongue" thing, to his attempts at a restrained John Travolta impression, it's at the very least one of his most indulgent films.
A stand-up guy with a murder wrap, Jesus hair, and a heart of gold, Nicolas Cage's Con Air character isn't nearly as cartoon-y as his Face/Off one, but there is his jet landing on the Vegas strip scene to consider, as well as the "It's not all mai tais and Yahtzee out there, but let's go!" line before running through an avalanche of gunfire. Why am I hankering for a terrible Nicolas Cage action marathon now?
Honeymoon in Vegas
"I haaaaad ASTRAIGHTFLUSH!" Private eye, commitment-phobe, over-confident gambler, and idiot prone to yelling and pimping out his fiancée, the role of Jack Singer is undoubtedly one of Cage's finest overacting moments. Remember the scene where he has to skydive dressed as Elvis without knowing which string to pull on his 'chute? Classic Cage.
Another very enjoyable movie (in making this list I realized he's made more of them than I realized -- side bonus!), Nicolas Cage played an amputee pizza boy/Italian-American stereotype who romanced Cher away from his own brother through sheer force of brooding. We all swoon every time it's on TBS, but c'mon.
This movie's hilarious, and admittedly a purposeful farce, but Nicolas Cage as trailer trash is like casting Yosemite Sam, but with weirder chest hair and bigger teeth. This movie is awesome though. Apparently I'm a real Nicolas Cage-head and had no idea.
Wild at Heart
It's David Lynch's fault overall, but like Cage didn't take the role solely so he could sing an Elvis song over the credits? And can people please stop allowing this man to appear in films that require accent work? It just enables his caricature-ish acting instincts.
You probably didn't see this, because you're probably smarter than I am, but I paid to sit through it, and if there ever was a perfect cautionary tale for actors who want to make a ridiculously indulgent vehicle for themselves, sacrificing all content quality and story in favor of stroking their own ego on-screen and charging people for it after having a couple hit films, this is it. Everything people criticize Cage for is here -- the singing for no reason, the dancing for no reason, the yelling, the unbuttoned dress shirts, the non-sequitur crazy eyes -- all of it, just bashing you in the face for two unbearable hours. Many of the films above are actually cheesy fun entertainment; Snake Eyes is not.
And I didn't see Ghost Rider, but it looked hilarious. I'm giving it an honorary place here.
Your favorite Cage overacting achievements? Tell us about them below.
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