Ron Burgundy Dodge Durango ad

Though the Oscars featured plenty of product placement (hey there, Samsung), they didn’t spend much time dwelling on the art of product placement in movies. But the marketing-minded folks at Brandchannel have, and now they’ve released their 2014 Product Placement Awards.

By their metric, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Pain & Gain were among the top movies of the year, while The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a particular low point. If nothing else, the list is worth checking out because it’s probably the only best-of list to include both Philomena and The Smurfs 2. Dig into their results after the jump.

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World's End taps

As the new year begins, it’s nice to have films to look forward to. Which is why we write lists of our own, personal, most anticipated films. Even more so than a top 10 list, anticipated lists showcase a writer’s personality. In an ideal world, these 10 movies would be 10 of our favorites when the year is over. More often than not though, the films we’re excited about are not the best we see. Most of the time, there are some really bad calls. Occasionally there are some really good calls. Which is why I like to own up to my list from the previous year and critique myself.

How right, or wrong, was I about my most anticipated films of 2013? Find out below. Read More »

Pain and Gain Muscles

Michael Bay might be the man getting all the ink when it comes to this week’s true crime film Pain & Gain, but really Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were initially responsible for its birth. It was the screenwriting pair, who wrote the three Chronicles of Narnia adaptations, Captain America: The First Avenger, and the upcoming Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that found the original Miami New Times articles by Pete Collins and shopped them around Hollywood. That was in 2000.

Granted, it was Bay’s attachment that actually got the film made, but Markus and McFeely were essential in the development of the film. Below, we spoke to the pair about that process, what Bay brought to the table, using voice over and what it means to adapt a true story. Read More »

Pain and Gain Mark Wahlberg

To say that Pain & Gain is Michael Bay’s most restrained film in six years is either an indictment of the devolution of Bay’s directorial career or an earnest wish that he return to making movies without giant fighting robots. Despite its pedigree, the film is an enjoyable, misanthropic, frequently uncomfortable testosterone-laden romp through the streets of 90s-era Miami. It feels like the type of film Bay was born to make, before he got in bed with Hasbro.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Pain & Gain is that it’s based on a true story, featuring characters that are still alive today. How a filmmaker chooses to depict real-life events can say a lot about the filmmaker and how the events themselves still resonate. According to Bay, “Pain & Gain is a mixture of Fargo and Pulp Fiction. It’s a dark comedy, and it’s all true.”

But how accurate is the film, really? I spent a couple of hours reading Pete Collins’ Pain and Gain, a riveting feature he wrote for the Miami New Times in 2000 (you can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 on the internet). In the screenplay, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the standard liberties are taken with the source material: characters were combined or excluded completely based on how they served the plot, and many of the more mundane events were eliminated as well. To see what I thought were the most significant divergences, read past the jump.

Note: Massive spoilers for Pain and Gain follow.
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Pain and Gain tanning

Michael Bay has never attempted a movie as complex as Pain and Gain. He’s made plenty of films that flaunt action, crime and sex, but Pain and Gain isn’t one of them, at all. Below its glossy surface, Pain and Gain is a dark, terrifying true story of one man’s twisted view of the American dream and how he strives to achieve it. That means the film’s main characters — played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie — are not good people. They have good traits, maybe even good hearts, but though they’re presented as muscle-bound super men, they’re not good people.

Making an entertaining and thought-provoking movie filled with despicable characters is not an easy task. It’s a tonal nightmare and Bay struggles with that balance from the very beginning of the film. Ultimately, he finds a groove and the film may win you over, but the journey to that point is as bumpy as a muscled arm. Read More »

Great Gatsby header

The latest films from Baz Luhrmann, Michael Bay and Seth Rogen all have new posters out today.

There’s The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann’s 3D epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, out May 10. Then there’s Pain & Gain, Michael Bay’s return to “small” films, starring Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie, which is out April 26.

Finally, there’s This Is The End, the directorial debut of Seth Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg, starring James Franco, Danny McBride and Jonah Hill. It’s out June 12. Check out the three new posters below.

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Pain and Gain Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie are about to get the full, Michael Bay Miami treatment in the action comedy Pain & Gain. A new red-band trailer for the April 26 film has just been released and it gives a great idea of the humor in the film, complete with language, violence and plenty of skin. Check it out below, along with a new TV spot and a few new stills. Read More »

Some of you are probably thinking, enough with this stuffy Sundance stuff. Bring on the mindless entertainment. Paramount is more than happy to oblige with a brand new TV spot for Michael Bay‘s Pain and Gain starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. The spot touts the fact that this film, as wild as it looks, is a true story. It’s scheduled for release April 26. Check out the spot below. Read More »

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