If you were one of the millions of vaguely disturbed patrons who turned out at the multiplex this weekend to see Michael Bay's attempt to apply his hyperactive meathead aesthetic to a Coen brothers–style dark comedy (his pitch to Paramount: "It's like Fargo, but if it had harsh sunlight and 90 minutes of wood chipper!"), you probably noticed that the movie's sex-toy budget was, er, generous. For extended stretches, overflowing boxes of wholesale marital aids played as important a function as Tony Shalhoub, who commendably endured the constant focus-pulling of the scene-hogging dildo jiggling menacingly in his battered face.
But exactly how generous was the neoprene-vagina-and-nipple-clamp budget? Take a moment to formulate a guess. Ready? The answer follows, courtesy of a Bay interview with The Daily Beast:
Like everyone else on the Internet, Wesley and Alex wanted Michael Bay's Pain & Gain — his first film without Decepticons in a while — to be amazing. And it's amazing. But is it good? Is it funny? What does Michael Bay want from us? What does Michael Bay want from Michael Bay? And is there a Chekhov rule about introducing a warehouse full of sex toys in the first act? All this plus a defense of The Island! Get pumped.
You expect a Michael Bay joint to take the top box office slot when that joint has screeching space robots, or Martin Lawrence dropping gems of knowledge and badassery, or just, generally, a whole mess of stuff exploding underneath glorious lens flare. But when Bay goes small-ball (at least by his standards), like with Pain & Gain, you don't necessarily foresee box office glory. And, yes, relative to the Transformers flicks, P&G's first-week haul was paltry: just your basic $20 million. But not only was that good enough for a no. 1 opening, it also almost recouped the entire production budget for the movie — a reported $26 million, downright peanuts for Bay — in its first weekend. Certainly, seeing this kind of result, Michael Bay will be encouraged to go only deeper and deeper into the indie/lo-fi/DIY movie world. By the end of next year, if Bay isn't shooting a black-and-white travelogue with Greta Gerwig as his leading lady and Noah Baumbach as his co-writer, frankly, I'll be shocked.
Earlier this week, a little to-do broke out over disparaging remarks Michael Bay supposedly made about his 1998 blockbuster, Armageddon, in an interview plugging his new flick, Pain & Gain. Seeing as, generally speaking, Michael Bay seems like the kind of guy who believes in the Bayian infallibility of Michael Bay, it was hard to fathom. But there they were, in black-and-white:
Music Monday: Pitch-shifting "Get Lucky" converts it into a Michael Jackson–esque jam; a terrible inauguration song in honor of the Netherlands' new king gets pulled for crap lyrics ("I will fight like a lion, nothing will stop me / from keeping you safe as long as I live / The W of William, three fingers in the air, come on"); and Snoop Lion on his reincarnation (it was time to "take the party and put it on pause" for Rasta's sake).
With Emily still recovering from Coachella, and Molly still recovering from Anthony Mackie in a Dan Marino jersey, the Girls decided to ditch the map this week and free-form jazz their way through their discussion of an eventful pop cultural week. (So eventful, in fact, that we didn't even get around to talking about Amanda Bynes's face! Apologies for going off-brand.) The highlights were of course Emily's weekend in Tatooine Indio, and the Grantland staff's (controversial!) Pain & Gain screening, but other topics discussed include:
The Germans probably have a word for that feeling you experience when something you believed to be perfect is proven imperfect by the subsequent revelation of a seemingly more-perfect thing. Anyway: Whatever that word is, you're about to be crushed by it, because a red-band trailer for Pain and Gain has arrived, and it has obliterated the now-tainted memory of the mere appetizer Michael Bay served us back in December. (Remember how excited we all got? Seems silly now.)
On Thursday, Michael Bay threw up a little one-liner on his blog: "TMNT: we are bringing Megan Fox back into the family!" And boom went the minds of a nation of devoted Bayologists. Michael Bay has pardoned Megan Fox for her sins? And he's casting her in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie?!
A little background: Michael and Megan have a bit of history, all going back to that time she playfully, cheerfully — like, totally in a fun way! — compared him to a certain former Chancellor of Germany. The comments in question, made to Wonderland Magazine in 2009: "[Bay] wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. And it's endearing to watch him." Actually not all that bad, when you read it in context — but I guess it was hard for Mikey to get around the words "HE WANTS TO BE LIKE HITLER," huh? Anyway, he fired her from the Transformers series for her transgressions, and admitted as much, then went right back to pummeling our brains in with senseless, endless Decepticon gore, leaving Megan to wander the barren desert that is "not working in Michael Bay films" forevermore.
Yesterday afternoon, Michael Bay debuted the trailer for Pain and Gain, his first non-Transformers movie since 2005, inspiring an internal Grantland e-mail chain every bit as over-the-top and exuberantly explosion-laden as his filmography. So we thought we'd share it. What has 16 thumbs and is way too excited about The Rock and Mark Wahlberg playing criminal bodybuilders? These guys.
Back in February, Grantland pointed your attention to the news that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was in talks for Brett Ratner's comeback flick: Hercules, a "big stomp-y sandals-and-swords flick [based on Steve Moore's Hercules: The Thracian War], a hyper-aggressive 300-style romp through mythology." Well, now it's official. Deadline reports that both Johnson and Ratner are signed on, and that production will start in 2013. Congratulations, The Rock: You now continue to have a multitude of professional reasons to look like this.
On Tuesday, TwitchFilm reported that "Michael Bay is having early conversations with Mark Wahlberg to star in the upcoming, Paramount backed Transformers 4." Not happening, says big Bay himself. "The Mark Wahlberg T4 rumor is just a rumor. Mark and I are talking about another film project." Even though the message was delivered via blog post on his personal website, MichaelBay.com, and even though he used the first person in the message delivered on MichaelBay.com, Bay signed it "—Michael," just to make sure everyone knew it was Michael Bay talking. And then, just to really make sure everyone knew it was Michael Bay talking, Michael Bay made that MichaelBay.com blog post engage another MichaelBay.com blog spot in an indecipherable, sensorially violent fight to the death on the roof of a skyscraper.
You think Michael Bay makes enemies (e.g., ex-leading lady Megan Fox, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan community) thanks to some unholy swirl of his outsize ego, his remarkable touchiness, and his misplaced righteousness? You think wrong! Sure, that might have been the old Michael Bay. But these days, Michael Bay makes enemies because he wants to save the elephants.
Here is actor Jesse Plemons, talking to Zap2It in 2007 about the first time he suited up to shoot a football scene on Friday Night Lights: "There's this play where Taylor is supposed to knock the crap out of me. So he does, and I get up and I'm jumping around — and everyone's like, "Holy crap!" My chin had split open [laughs], I had to get like 11 stitches."
If you're reading this website, these people probably need no introduction, but just in case: On Friday Night Lights, Plemons played Landry Clarke, whose non-gridiron activities included wearing women down with persistence, fronting the best-ever Christian death-metal band in Dillon, Texas, and the occasional act of justifiable manslaughter. In the first season, Landry was an appealing comic foil to Zach Gilford's long-suffering Matt Saracen; when he joined Saracen on Dillon High's football team in Season 2, it was implausible but forgivable, provided you liked Landry and wanted him in the mix as much as possible, which people generally did.
You should maybe go see Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash of the Titans, this weekend. Why?, you ask? It looks really dumb, you say? It’s not even clear that any Krakens will be released, you astutely point out? Listen: I have it on good authority that it is, at least, better than the awful first movie. None other than its star, heroically candid Australian-Na’vi Sam Worthington, said so!