Uncaged - Guarding Tess (1994) & It Could Happen to You (1994)
This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me.
Guarding Tess (1994)
Is this the first movie I have seen Cage play a straight man? I am looking over the past Cage movies I have seen, and he does not give a single normal performance (except for Fast Times, which he is either barely in or not in at all, depending on which version you see). It was pretty jarring seeing him play not just a relatively normal person, but a proverbial stick in the mud. Most of the comedy comes from the dynamic between Cage’s Secret Service agent and the former First Lady that Shirley MacLaine plays. Both actors are clearly game, and there are some OK gags such as the MacLaine falling asleep in the opera and Cage pranking her awake. The script chooses to make Cage extremely passive-aggressive...and MacLaine’s character too. The problem is that this doesn’t exactly make for great visual cinema, and the movie feels a little lifeless and sluggish and much longer than its 96 runtime. Cage does a great job in his role, and if he and MacLaine had a better script then I could see this movie being truly entertaining, but alas no.
It Could Happen to You (1994)
I miss Bridget Fonda. I think she is such a fantastic actress, especially for difficult roles that could easily have been forgettable or decidedly second-fiddle to much better performances. I am thinking of hilariously blase turn in Jackie Brown, and the voice of reason in A Simple Plan. Here, both Cage and Fonda are so good as the romantic leads of this fluffy romantic comedy. Needless to say, Cage was an extremely good-looking guy when he was younger (and still is here), but it is his personality that really shines in this role. He is so damn charming in this movie. It’s hard to play nice guys without coming off boring, but his earnestness as the charitable police officer is so winning that we can easily see why the people who hear about his story and are affected by his charity love him so much. Bridget Fonda is equally charming without appearing too much like a damsel in distress or as a stereotypically fawning love interest. She convincingly plays a waitress that you want good things to happen to. The 90’s was a good time for the romantic comedy, but this one rarely comes up in any conversation about them. I think that needs to change.