Sep 2 2011 5:08pm

The Good, the Bad, and the Cage-y

In most ways, Nicolas Cage seems like he inhabits a real life science fiction narrative. He owns an octopus, at some point had shrunken human heads, and named his son Kal-El in honor of Superman’s moniker on the planet Krypton. He also owns like a billion sports cars. So is Nicolas Cage an actor or a Bond villain? Despite all the mocking of Cage we’re about to do below, we honestly love the guy and are totally thankful of all the genre movies he’s given us over the years. Here’s an assortment of the good, the bad, and the Cage-y.


When Cage is straightforward and dealing with a good script, he’s perfect and wonderful. Here are a few.



Sure, they changed Big Daddy’s costume in the movie to make it more like Batman, but Cage’s Adam West homage is perfect and great. This scene is also wonderfully creepy, and great because it is really what this relationship is all about.



Not exactly science fiction, but the meta-fictional way in which “Charlie Kaufman’s” story warps around him is wonderful. Cage also stars twice in this movie as his own twin brother, Donald. Finally, he imagines writing a movie that will depict the birth of the entire world, complete with dinosaurs and everything.


The Family Man

As alternate universe movies go, this one is pretty great. Sure, it has kind of a cheesy Scrooge-kind of feel to it, but Cage really owns it, and as such, this is an underrated movie. Though, there is kind of 1990s painful rom-com saccharin quality to this movie, something about it kind of stays with you.



While almost every Nicolas Cage movie will be entertaining if Cage starts yelling, some are just sort of terrible.



It’s a shame so many Philip K. Dick stories are adapted into bad movies and it’s too bad Nicholas Cage is in so many of them. We know Knowing isn’t based on a Philip K. Dick story, but whatever.


Ghost Rider

Where to begin...? Don’t see this movie. This scene is all you need. Take a look through it. Okay, you’re done. Also, don’t see Daredevil. Or Elektra.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice/Season of the Witch

We’re not sure Cage is magical or involved with magic. With madness, yes. Magic? No.







Sometimes there are Cage movies in which the Cage-y-ness of Cage defines the movie and creates irrational enjoyment despite how preposterous everything is. Sometimes it’s like movies were created in order to give us a great Nicolas Cage freak-out scene. Here’s what we mean.


Wicker Man

Sure, this is based on a somewhat scary movie with Christopher Lee, but the remake with Cage is batshit crazy. Famous playwright and director Neil LaBute adapted the screenplay and directed this movie. And as great as some of his work is, LaBute’s involvement sort of explains everything. This is also the best video on the internet.



If Nicholas Cage weren’t allowed to play himself in a movie, you’d think the universe would end. But no. Because in this one, he got to play himself and John Travolta at the same time. Score.

City of Angels

This is the kind of movie you usually walk in on other people watching. And you usually want to leave, but for some reason, you just can’t. Is it that Goo Goo Dolls song? Is it the beauty of Meg Ryan falling in love with an angel willing to become mortal for her? Nope. It’s casting. Nicholas Cage is playing an angel. And not the angel of Death or Vengeance. He’s playing the angel of Cage. Also, what is Dennis Franz doing in this movie? Forgive the poor audio quality, but this is the version you must watch to understand why this movie is so absurd.


Wild at Heart

Most David Lynch movies are just David Lynch movies. This one is also a Nicholas Cage movie. He’s never looked cooler/weirder, and he’s never been funnier. You want to try and tell me that every single David Lynch movie isn’t fantasy? No way. David Lynch is totally a genre film maker, and this is one of his best. This clip in which Sailor (Cage) sings “Love Me Tender” will make your day.


Special Mention

Okay. So this isn’t really Nicolas Cage. Instead, it’s Andy Samberg doing an impression of Nicolas Cage in an alternate universe playing Marty McFly from Back to the Future. No explanation needed. Just watch.

What are you favorite Nicolas Cage moments? Let us know, but try to do your best Cage impression as you type.

Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Stubby considers its rocket boosters to be a symbol of its individuality and belief in personal freedom.

Emmet O'Brien
1. EmmetAOBrien
While I will not defend Ghost Rider as any conceivable value of "good", it is gloriously bad in ways that make it immense fun to watch, and certainly orders of magnitude more so thatn Daredevil.
Thomas Jeffries
2. thomstel
"I thought I might move out to Las Vegas."

Guess who's never gonna become a drunk IRL? All thanks to seeing this film. Thanks, Mr. Cage.
3. J-Ro
But I liked A Sorcerer's Apprentice. Cage's homage to Harry Dresden was too good to not love.
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
Cage was definitely the best part of Sorverer's Apprentice. I just didn't like anything else in the movie.
Phil Frederick
5. flosofl
@1 - Genevieve Valentine has a term she uses for movies like that:


Priest is another movie I've found in that category.
Ron Hogan
7. RonHogan
That's a pretty good Wicker Man summation, but I prefer this one.
Genevieve Williams
8. welltemperedwriter
I live in an alternate universe where The Wicker Man was never remade. The original didn't just have Christopher Lee, it had Christopher Lee in kilt and bouffant hairdo, singing (he has a marvelous voice, by the way). AND it had the Equalizer. Even Cage can't top that.
9. thatguyworks
This list has automatically disqualified itself due to the glaring omission of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

Like rampant drug abuse? Hallucinatory iguanas? Werner Herzog? Big, fat Val Kilmer? Nic Cage at his Nic Cagey-est?

Netflix. Now.
10. Inkthinker
Holy crapbiscuits, all that and not one mention of Raising Arizona?

I mean, I know it's an easy one, but that's because it's kinda awesome, and he's kinda awesome in it. I can watch the whole robbery/chase scene again and again, it somehow never gets old for me.
Jenny Thrash
11. Sihaya
His introductory tantrum in Moonstruck ain't too shabby. "Bring me the big knife, I'm gonna cut my throat!" But later in the film? He has a monologue to Cher in about four parts. First he counters her arguments about morality. He smiles wistfully at the sky as he ramps it up to a speech about how love is really pretty brutal and people treat each other and themselves so awfully because of it. He tops it off with the cry, "Now get in my bed!" before he quietly, calmly holds his hand out to her. For about four minutes Cage is the only one speaking in the scene. It's classically Cage-y.
13. TomT
But I love watching Ghost Rider it is a wonderfully fun movie. Great no, but fun yes.

And Sorcerer's apprentice is delightful to watch.
14. Geoff99
I have to agree with EmmetAOBrien and TomT. Ghost Rider may be trash, but it's got an over-the-top, hilariously bad charm that makes it pretty entertaining.
Rob Hansen
15. RobHansen
I can happily watch RAISING ARIZONA and GHOST RIDER again. The first because it's wonderful, and the second because it's fun. Also, how could you not mention he named himself after Marvel Comics character Luke Cage? His real name is Nicholas Coppolla, remember.
Justin Trhlin
16. Justin Trhlin
Not including Raising Arizona in The Good seems blasphemous to me. Also, "Put. The bunny. Down." How Malkovich, Rhames, Buscemi, etc. all ended up in such an amazingly great bad movie boggles the mind.
Nick Rogers
17. BookGoblin
Wasn't Cage a Flying Elvis in a movie? I remember him as a Flying Elvis. Maybe that's just a weird dream brought on by Netflix and too much wine. Still, I'd swear he was a Flying Elvis.
Jenny Thrash
19. Sihaya
@18: Not to be confused with Leaving Las Vegas, a *very* different Cage movie set in the same city.
20. Petar Belic
I really enjoyed Knowing, contrary to everyone else's experience, it seems. Face/Off would probably be my favourite Cage movie. Con Air is also a guilty pleasure.
21. Amy12345
Peggy Sue Got Married? A sweet time travel flick.

I liked Knowing, despite its flaws.
22. Ceridwen
I like him in Gone In 60 Seconds. It's a fun movie. Also it has Angelina Jolie... Next would be a better movie, if it had an end, which it doesn't. I'm happy I've never managed to watch City of Angels. If the trailer has its best scenes, I really don't want to see the worst.
23. BJK
I'd really love to see the sarcasm and snarkiness taken out of movie reviews. I like to watch masters of acting doing their thing, maybe Bogart in The Maltese Falcon or Casablanca (and many others), who can forget Cagney in "Angels with dirty faces"? What standards do we have for these actors though? They were actors, paid to act, because that's the job they chose, and sometimes they had to do films to make money. Big surprise.

"George, you can write this stuff, but you can't make me say it."

My point is, I love great acting, not what is popular, becomes unpopular, becomes popular again. To watch De Niro in Taxi Driver, and Jodi Foster, and Harvey Keitel is a joy. But so is watching Malovich, Cage, Buscemi and all the rest hamming it up in Con-Air. It's money and fun. Show me a serious actor and I'll show you a film they did for the money or the lulz.
john mullen
24. johntheirishmongol
There are some Nick Cage movies I like but maybe not the same ones everyone else does. I have never been that fond of Raising Arizona.

Con Air is a fun movie, just because.

Ghost Rider was awful. I think the premise is terribly flawed.

National Treasure was fun, not really scifi but certainly adventure.

Sorcerer's Apprentic was ok, didn't see the Witch movie yet.

My problem with NC is that he only has a couple of notes and I have seen them over and over again.
Joseph Kingsmill
25. JFKingsmill16
His Best: Guarding Tess; Con Air (Great One liners in this movie); Raising Arizona; National Treasure; Kick Ass

With the Bad: Ghost Rider; Wicker Man; Kiss of Death; 8mm; Bangkok Dangerous; Next

ALL TIME WORST: Leaving Las Vegas (watching this movie was like drowning in alcohol in real time)
Marcus W
26. toryx
I liked Sorcerer's Apprentice. As others said, Con Air is worth watching just for all the one-liners*. National Treasure is just plain fun.

I also rather like City of Angels, but I've always been a weird, sappy dude.

I would probably like Gone in 60 Seconds, if only Angelina Jolie hadn't had dreads. Those dreads, man...they were like a horror show of their own.

Leaving Las Vegas, while great, is a movie I never, ever want to see again.

Honestly, when I think of the Nic Cage movies I like the most, they're all just fun. I don't go to a Cage movie expecting a cerebral experience or high drama. But entertainment, yes. And most of the time, that's exactly what I get.

* Though I must admit, the one-liner from Con Air that I love the most isn't Cage's. It's Steve Buscemi's: "Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash."
Joseph Kingsmill
27. JFKingsmill16
Another thing about Con Air that makes it good is Nick Cage's awful accent. It may be the worst accent in the history of cimema.

"Well, it's not exactly mai-thais and yatzee out here but... let's do it!"

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