As the rest of the world gets to enjoy Iron Man 3 this weekend, we are relegated to a cliche wedding comedy and a “low-budget” Michael Bay movie. It’s going to be very tough to pick a favorite. They’re both just so good. Sorry if my sarcasm doesn’t translate into writing.
Pain & Gain
I’ve spoken to several people who’ve been very excited for this movie. I had to ask all of these misguided souls, “You know this was made by Michael Bay right?” Even that unavoidable fact wasn’t enough to take away their excitement. Before the movie began, I told myself that I need to remove my bias against the director of such classic films, Transformers 2 and Pearl Harbor (again, sarcasm).
This movie follows the exploits of three of the world’s dumbest criminals as they plot to take the American Dream by force, if necessary. The leader of the group, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a personal trainer who hatches a plan to extort his newest client, smarmy millionaire Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Lugo convinces his fellow meat-head friend, Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and former-convict-turned-Born-Again Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to help him in his fool-proof plan. It would be fool-proof is only there weren’t three fools trying to pull it off.
For the first half hour I couldn’t help but laugh at how these moronic criminals were portrayed. This sounds wrong I know, but I was worried that I might really like this movie. Right when I thought I was going to be able to recommend a Michael Bay movie to everyone, the movie just turned sour.
This movie has so much energy, it feels like everyone including the cinematographer drank 13 Red Bulls while filming. It feels fast-paced without actually being fast-paced. But oh boy, does it start to wear on you.
Before long you start to get that familiar Bay camera angle cavity that rots your brain. This is just another shining example of style over substance. There should be a drinking game where you take a shot every time there is an establishing shot in slow motion from below each character. Also, take 2 shots every time you see a girl in her skivvies. You wouldn’t just be drunk, you’d sadly die of alcohol poisoning. I don’t think anyone would survive beyond the first 50 minutes.
The real problem (among the other 47) is that there is no reason to like these characters. In fact, I hated them. They are obviously supposed to represent anti-heroes, but they reach a point of no return where they not only torture and attempt to kill a man several times, but destroy his life and then butcher two other rich people. That’s just what I want in a Hollywood blockbuster, unlikable body-building murderers.
The movie will remind you that it’s a true story several times. It’s an effect done to make you feel astonished that such an unbelievable crime even happened, but I could only scratch my head and wonder why they glorified absolutely irredeemable people who did terrible things. Seriously, check out the true story which makes this movie feel deplorable.
The one shining light involved is Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal of the recovering junkie who seeks to do the Christian thing even when he has kidnapped and tortured a man. The role works because he is so incredibly large but is a softy who just want to treat everyone with kindness and love.
Sure, there is only one major explosion and there are no giant robots involved, but this movie has Michael Bay’s fingerprints all over it. I feel bad about what I’m about to say, but I’d rather watch any of the Transformers movies over this. The camera work and performances are so frenzied that I now know what a Michael Bay cartoon would be like. Did I mention it’s over 2 hours?
Skip this one. It’s all pain and no gain.
The Big Wedding
Just look at the poster for The Big Wedding. Really look at it. I’ll wait. Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s trying to convince you that their movie is so much fun? Even Robert De Niro is trying to do his best smile, and that’s coming from the man who’s never smiled once in his life. I really want to punch this movie in the face.
The Big Wedding centers around the wedding of Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried. His parents, De Niro and Diane Keaton, have been divorced for over a decade and De Niro has since been with his girlfriend, Susan Sarandon. Ben Barnes was adopted from Colombia as a child by De Niro and Keaton. As his wedding approaches, he realizes that his very Catholic mother is coming to visit and asks his adoptive parents to act like they’re still married for the weekend.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that ‘mayhem ensues.’
Doesn’t this sound like every sitcom wedding episode ever? And that’s just what the movie feels like, an 86 minute sitcom. Writer/Director Justin Zackham is really hoping that he reaches an audience that has never seen a movie before, because he rips off tired cliches in every scene. Amazingly, the crowd at my screening, made up largely of women, were guffawing at nearly every joke. There are times I wish I haven’t seen so many movies and become disillusioned because then I could enjoy the simple things.
If I haven’t turned you off of this flick, I’ll try harder. In the first scene, Keaton walks in on De Niro “performing” on Sarandon. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake that image out of my head. This movie will miss out on the target market of the casual PG-13 chick flickers. It’s a hard R, and because some of my least favorite actors are involved, I was even more disgusted.
Though he was part of a stupid plot, I did want to see more from Topher Grace. He doesn’t vary from what you are used to with Grace, but it’s far better than seeing Katherine Heigl’s
obvious pregnancy story or Robin Williams reprising his nails-on-the-chalkboard role of the invasive priest from License to Wed.
It not difficult to see why there has been so little promotion for this movie that was originally meant to release last Fall. It’s sad though, I had more hope for De Niro after his performance in Silver Linings Playbook.
Skip this one too.
So which movie should you see this weekend, Pain & Gain or The Big Wedding?