Author

Matt Patches
After a few years of working behind the scenes on movies and TV shows (and earning an IMDb page for bragging rights), Movies Editor Matt Patches made a hard right into the world of entertainment journalism. In 2009, Patches became the Associate Movies Editor of UGO.com, departing in 2010 to go rogue as a writer-for-hire. Patches covered movies and festivals for a number of outlets, including Movieline, MTV NextMovie, CinemaBlend, and Film School Rejects, before joining Hollywood.com as Movies Editor in 2011. He proudly names "Groundhog Day" as his favorite movie of all time.
  • Amitabh Bachchan, 'The Great Gatsby' Star You Need to Know, Gets His Own Poster
    By: Matt Patches Apr 30, 2013
    Does the name Amitabh Bachchan ring a bell? Probably not, if you stick mostly to the major Hollywood releases that arrive in the United States. For those familiar with the world of Bollywood, he's one of the biggest stars on the planet, winning heaps of awards, starring in ever genre under the sun, and even earning himself a replica at London's Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The man is a big deal. This May, thanks to the worldly tastes of director Baz Luhrmann, audiences around the world will get a taste of Bachchan's skills in the flashy, 3D adaptation The Great Gatsby. So renowned is Bachchan, he's been paid tribute in the highest of movie marketing honors: a character poster! Bachchan reacted the poster with the humblest of tweets (shot out to more than 5 million followers). T 1092 -The poster of Great Gatsby, something I thought to be too presumptuousbut Baz Luhrmann insisted that it be done so there .. — Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) April 28, 2013 Eaerlier in April, Bachchan wrote a personal essay on his blog detailing his experience working on Gatsby. It's another modest reaction. In the post, the actor says that when he was first told that Luhrmann wanted to meet him for the role, he "thought it was a bad joke and ignored [it]." But, of course, it wasn't. "When it came repeatedly, I agreed. Baz Luhrmann had a couple of years ago, while travelling through India with a friend on a motorbike, visited me at my office.… Now as I waited to connect with him on Skype, I wondered whether he would remember my face and how we would converse. But the connection was good, the offer for doing a small role was accepted… and soon we were exchanging notes voices and intonations for the Jewish mafia head Meyer Wolfshiem in ‘20’s New York!" With all of his experience, Bachchan recalls his time on the movie being one eye opening moment after another: Came the time for the shoot at Sydney, and the apprehension grew… Baz called me over the first day to his home, a warm old world charmed structure, well maintained, with his polished motorbike and a Ganesh on his verandah… soon as we sat in his office section the others arrived – Leonardo, Toby and Joel Edgerton… The next day it was back to the studio and to the cute little cottage that was exclusively Baz Luhrmann’s work place. The entire cast was there. In a small but comfortable dining table all the main artists, about 15 of us sat down to an introduction of the film its niceties and how the atmosphere of the film would be. After a quick snack there, we shifted to the main floor, where the entire participants sat down to another reading with mikes and cameras recording all that was being spoken. Then we read again the entire script, asked to move about as we deemed fit. And then another reading, in the presence of a test audience, which sat about us quietly noting all that was being enacted. This completed, there was a question answer session. The test audience made remarks, the artists spoke about what they felt, Baz gave his inputs and then we wrapped for the day… The sets were an eye opener for me. Grand and colossal in its presence and opulence… All about was like an imagination fructifying to reality. The sincerity of all that worked, including the main stars, the earnestness of the director his crew and the unimaginable detail of authenticity, all added up to an experience which when I returned to my room, could not fathom !!… I can say that in my 44 years and 180 films I had never worked in such a set up. Thank you Baz Luhrmann and his crew, and Warners for this experience. So when you catch The Great Gatsby on May 10, watch out for Bachchan — the tip of an iceberg for a career that spans more than 180 films. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Leo Dicaprio on Friendship with Tobey MaguireWho Is That Mysterious 'Gatsby' Costar?Florence + The Machine's New 'Gatsby' Track Is Moody, Sexy From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Oblivion' Star Olga Kurylenko Finds Her Twilight and Harry Potter in 'Vampire Academy'
    By: Matt Patches Apr 30, 2013
    The premise for Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy book series reads like the ultimate young adult fiction Mad Libs. In the book, a vampire named Rose Hathaway is forced to return to her magical boarding school. There, her friendships are put to the test thanks to a blossoming romance and the rise of a great evil. YAF 101. As routine as Vampire Academy may seem, Mead's novels have an ardent following. The casting of up-and-comer Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures) in the upcoming film adaptation by Mark Waters (Mean Girls) left the passionate fanbase in a tizzy, and the next big name to join the project will surely stir up controversy as only these types of movies can do. Oblivion star Olga Kurylenko will star alongside Deutch as Headmistress Ellen Kirova, the Dumbledore to Vampire Academy's Harry Potter. In the books, Rose describes her as being "a vulture." Kurylenko can certainly go there, personality wise. Is Vampire Academy headed on track to actually become the next Twilight or Harry Potter, or is the series destined to the fate of romance-infused franchise hopefuls like Beautiful Creatures? Kurylenko has blockbuster credits to her name, but she's not a dramatic standout in the vein of the Potter ensemble. This could be a role that continues her climb to stardom… if the role fits. Come, members of Fanpire Academy. Weigh in on Kurylenko and tell us why Vampire Academy is the series that's going to break the mold as Hollywood continues to translate popular books to the big screen. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Is Zoey Deutch Right for 'Vampire Academy'?Which Celebs Posed for YA Novel Covers?'Mortal Instruments' Delivers Action & YA Romance From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Neutral Milk Hotel Reunite for Tour 15 Years After Recording the Greatest Album Ever
    By: Matt Patches Apr 29, 2013
    If you're a Neutral Milk Hotel fan, prepare to do backflips. If not, prepare to have your socks rocked off. After 15 years, NMH is reuniting for a brand new tour. In case you didn't realize, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the greatest album of all time. Jeff Mangum and his band Neutral Milk Hotel may not have the legendary fame of acts like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. Nor is Over the Sea an album where all the stars aligned, like The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. But I'm telling you: it's the greatest. The. Greatest. Adding to the allure of Mangum's 11-track poetic demonstration of alternative rock n' roll (which many believe is inspired by the life of Anne Frank) is the fact that Neutral Milk Hotel never followed it up. After Over the Sea arrived in 1998 the band went on tour and then… an extended hiatus. Since then, Mangum has been all but mum on the future of Neutral Milk Hotel, leaving fans to replay the wailing vocals, lines of horns and guitar, lo-fi recording of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea over and over and over again. Who knew MP3's could form grooves? Now, in a true mysterious-rock-star move, Netural Milk Hotel is set to return for a tour of unspecified length — and there are already a few dates and locations locked for the reunion. Mangum, along with his broadly talented In the Aeroplane Over the Sea ensemble Jeremy Barnes, Scott Spillane, and Julian Koster, will hit the road this Fall with a portion of their tour proceeds going to the Children of the Blue Sky charity. Who is lucky enough to live in…. 10-22 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club10-23 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club0-25 Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium11-28 Taipei, Taiwan - Hostess Club Festival12-01 Tokyo, Japan - Hostess Club Festival The Neutral Milk Hotel website promises more shows to follow, so start crossing those fingers. The update also includes this bit of contextless ruminating: and of water course womb rume is a wandering the welkin woman whose fune caul is all umbilical cord code that comes equipped with read volve vît curtains that čun seel my văl én tich radio reason in remembrance of mademoiselle gabrielle and her wone tym pad lock of burd language as it borders on twin tolk the wolk king wall of woolpack pigeons pointing to the fly blind readers riddle and his rian boh No, this isn't quite a In the Aeroplane Over the Sea follow-up. But as a defining album of rock music, the chance to see the original band reform to play it live may be more vital. Hearing "Oh Comely" recorded is necessary. Hearing Magnum preach the song in person feels essential. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: David Bowie Makes a List of 42 WordsIs Selena Gomez Using a Body Double?TV Throwback: Music Video Memories From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Is Guillermo Del Toro's 'Pacific Rim' a Big Ol' Monster Movie That's Critical of the Military?
    By: Matt Patches Apr 29, 2013
    Big. Loud. Imaginative. Any good summer blockbuster delivers on these components. That's why we're drooling on our keyboards over Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, a man vs. monster epic that fully realizes our the sandbox action figure battles of yesteryear. The latest spot — Del Toro's extended trailer shown to privy WonderCon audiences earlier this year — builds on the teased images of robot/monster combat. Actor Charlie Hunnam murmurs prophetic voiceover as he suits up in the "Jaeger" armor, a towering exoskeleton that allows his character Raleigh Becket to take on the alien beings creeping in from the core of the Earth. The "Kaiju" threaten mankind. Becket, along with Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman), and an army of Jaegers, are ready to squash them. Besides having the best names ever, the squad looks well-equipped to punch, kick, and slam the beasts into the great beyond. But there's a lone voice, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day), who thinks that may be the wrong move, and adds an intriguing layer to the visceral spectacle: About halfway through the spot, Day as Geiszler suggests, "If you want to stop them, you have to understand them. There sole purpose was to aim for the populated areas and take out the vermin." To this, Hunnam's Becket replies, "Or we could just blow 'em to pieces." The clash of scientific understanding with militaristic action is a common science fiction trope. Clearly, Becket gets his way in Pacific Rim. There's some jaw-dropping action on display in the above trailer. But as is so often the case, the human defenders of post-Kaiju Earth may learn a thing or two about their otherworldly enemies by the time the credits roll. The case could be like Godzilla: a creature bent on destruction who, at the end of the day, was man's own atomic creation. Or maybe the film has an eco-lesson in store à la Avatar. Enough drilling into the Earth eventually broke open a portal to an alternate dimension. Thanks a lot, oil barons! Pacific Rim's moralistic pondering could run even deeper, making Del Toro's simple premise more subversive than a typical blockbuster. In Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven took the battle between humans and alien insects to criticize military and its use of propaganda in blinding the global population. Over the course of the film, the bugs who ferociously ripped apart gun-toting soldiers were turned into sympathetic figures — the victims of war-mongering. If there's a central mystery at the heart of Pacific Rim that complicates the dynamic, large-scale fights at the center of the trailer, it could be a characterization of the threat. While it's cool to see a skyscraper-sized robot use a boat to beat the living daylights out of a Kaiju, it's compelling to consider "why?" Dumb fun minus the dumb. Pacific Rim arrives in theaters July 12. Is it the next Starship Troopers or simply an attempt at the biggest, baddest popcorn title of 2013? Can it be both? Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: The 'Pacific Rim' Poop Joke Rules 115 Secrets of 'Pacific Rim''Pacific Rim 2' Already in the Works From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Fast & Furious 6' Trailer: 7 Moments That Take the Franchise to New Heights
    By: Matt Patches Apr 29, 2013
    The Fast & Furious franchise has always been about sleek sports cars that barrel down streets at lightning speed... but it hasn't always paid much mind to physics. The first film was a small-scale, polished look at the underground racing scene. A few installments later, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and a ragtag team of drivers were pulling off on-the-road heists and outrunning Brazilian police by whatever means necessary. In Fast & Furious 6, director Justin Lin appears to have escalated his automotive series to near-fantastical levels. Judging from the new trailer, everyone and everything in the new movie can fly. Fast & Furious 6 is going toe-to-toe with Man of Steel — it makes sense Lin would have to take his franchise to the sky to contend with summer's biggest blockbusters. Watch the trailer and keep an eye out for these moments. :56 - A police car does a double barrel roll over Owen Shaw's (Luke Evans) souped up roadster. Didn't Dick Dastardly's car have that same catapult trick on Wacky Races? 1:00 - This looks like Gina Carano suffering from a close contact explosion. Also, some mad air. 1:53 - One of the movie's biggest stunts is bringing down an airplane with some savvy car tricks. To make up for the lack of air, Lin finds a moment to send a tank sailing into the sky. 2:04 - Tyrese does his best Rocky the Flying Squirrel impression. 2:09 - The Rock's Luke Hoobs must have learned from the warriors of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We doubt a person could actually leap to this height for a punch advantage. Then again, this is The Rock. 2:14 - Michelle Rodriguez's Letty returns for this FF6 after previously having been presumed to be dead. Having been thrown from her car off a freeway, she might once again be on death's door. 2:20 - But not if Diesel's Dominic has anything to say about it. What is the plan here? Is Walker driving a truck full of pillows on the road beneath them? We'll have to wait until May 24 to find out the answers. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More:'Fast & Furious' Stunt Driver Reveals High Octane SecretsSee the 'Fast 6' Class Photo'Fast 7' Gets a Release Date From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Avengers' Actor Clark Gregg Takes Quick, Satirical Jabs at Blockbusters in 'Trust Me'
    By: Matt Patches Apr 28, 2013
    Fans know him as the late (or based on his involvement in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, resurrected?) Agent Coulson in The Avengers, but before and after his comic book career, Clark Gregg is a triple force actor/writer/director. Gregg added screenwriter to his resume after penning the 2000 thriller What Lies Beneath, then took the director's chair for the 2008 Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke. Now, after a few years rubbing shoulders with Marvel's superteam, he's back at Tribeca Film Festival with his latest and most vivacious work yet, a biting satire of the world Gregg has been immersed in for the last five years. Trust Me follows child actor agent Howard (Gregg) as he traverses the seas of talent wrangling. At first, he seems like the typical down-on-his-luck shmuck, unable to secure prospective newcomers or hold on to the clients he has. Early on, we see Howard stuck in the middle between Hollywood dealmakers and a terrifying stage mom (Molly Shannon). Life clearly isn't cutting him a break, as he loses his negotiations and caps it off with a vehicular punch to the gut. Sam Rockwell plays rival agent Aldo, who appears whenever life needs to rub Howard's failures in his face. Things pick up when Howard meets Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), a tween actress ready to bust out of her parents sloppy management strategy. She sees potential in the lackluster representative, and when she presents him with the opportunity to shepherd her in to the next big Young Adult franchise (a la Hunger Games), he seizes the opportunity. Contending with her alcoholic father, Aldo's studio ties, and Murphy's Law slapping him this way and that, Howard goes all in on Lydia — and it's only when he's up to his neck in Hollywood bulls**t does he realize he might be caught up in something dangerous. Tonally, Trust Me glides back and forth between comedy and thrills like few others. Gregg's history working with the Atlantic Theater Company and dramatic titan David Mamet is apparent on every level here — what starts as a biting satire of Hollywood nonsense twists and turns into a full-blown thriller. It's not an elegant evolution, but it's dynamic, shocking, and absorbing. Trust Me kicks off with snappy dialogue that's overflowing with business jargon and weaponized for laughs. Gregg plays fast and loose behind the camera, convincing us that Trust Me is a Curb Your Enthusiasm riff on State & Main. But as Howard's life takes an upward turn, Gregg's script steers to darker places and more dramatic turns. On the evening of Lydia's big audition, Howard rehearses lines and pushes the young actress to take the fluffy fantastical YA material seriously (a truly difficult task). Sharbino holds her on against Gregg in the comedic back-and-forths, but in an instance of acting-on-top-of-acting, she asserts as a real discovery. She blows Howard and the audience away. From the very beginning, Clark chooses to soundtrack his jaunty look at the entertainment industry with a score straight out of neo-noirs. It's sparse and in opposition to what we see. But it's the perfect build-up to the third act, that goes off the rails in a welcome way. The movie daringly subverts expectations like no Marvel movie ever could. Gregg keeps peppering Trust Me with comedy (courtesy of the devilish studio executive played by Felicity Huffman) and heart (his relationship with Amanda Peet's next door neighbor/object of affection is quite sweet), but in the end, the lesson is clear: Hollywood is a frightening, bloodthirsty world and no one is safe to its traps. That's why the twists of Trust Me feel natural — for anyone with inside knowledge of the industry, success one day and complete failure the next is just another week on the job. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More:Amy Morton Wows in Tribeca's 'Bluebird'Tribeca Discovers a Quintessential New York MovieTribeca: Why Can't Gay Movies Ever Have a Hollywood Ending?
  • Tribeca Finds a Quintessential New York Movie in 'Stand Clear of the Closing Doors'
    By: Matt Patches Apr 26, 2013
    For many, outsiders and residents alike, New York City feels like the center of the universe. It's iconic in its own right, and thanks to filmmakers capturing the majesty of the diverse urban landscape in movies, New York is bigger than its own city limits. The city has become such a big part of cinematic language, we even have "New York directors." Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee — legendary names who shaped perspectives of their hometowns for the world to see. As New York continues to evolve, so do the artists who capture it. The core will always be the same, while the angle must change. Scorsese's New York is different from director Sam Fleischner's New York, and they're both better for it. Fleischner's second feature film Stand Clear of the Closing Doors debuted at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, standing out as a quintessential New York movie. It lives and breathes the spirit of the city, embodying its sense of immediacy. Instead of capitalizing on the layered backgrounds of the Manhattan skyline like Allen, or delving into the phantasmagoria of the city's contrasting nights like Scorsese, or putting his fingers on the pulse of a neighborhood like Lee, Fleischner buries himself in the casual culture of New York. Every day, thousands of people ride the subway system, the blood that pumps through the veins of the five boroughs. Stand Clear is observational of the city's energy and color — filtered through a character hungry for sensory stimulation. A 13-year-old Ricky (Jesus Sanchez-Velez) lives in Rockaway Beach, Queens with his mother Mariana (Andrea Suarez Paz) and sister (Azul Zorrilla). His autism is the family's greatest struggle — each day, Ricky needs to be carted back and forth from school, be pulled away from video games, and assisted in the bathroom. For his teeange sister, it's a nightmare. For his mother, who deals with it all on her own as her illegal immigrant husband works upstate for months at a time, it's a challenge that routinely pushes her to a breaking point. Like many autistic children, Ricky is also overflowing with life: he loves to draw, loves to play, and loves to imagine. One day, Ricky's creativity gets the best of him. He becomes mesmerized by an embroidered dragon design on the jacket of a New York stranger, and follows the wearer to the subway. When he sits down and rides the subway with no destination in mind, he begins a trek that will implode Mariana's existence. She has to find her son, without a clue as to where to look. Paz's work as a mother investing everything in order to find someone she loves is compelling, but Fleischner's strongest moments are when Stand Clear follows Ricky down the rabbit hole of the New York City subway system. He bounces from train to train, watching people from every spot of the spectrum move on and off, going about their daily lives. He's absorbed in sounds and gestures and faces and feelings. As anyone who has taken New York's metro system can vouch, the commuter experience is a miasma of personality — both positive and pitch black. Ricky is a passive character as he soaks in the ride, playing out like a DSLR riff on the 1997 short film collection Subway Stories (which showcased the public transportation character through the visions of directors like Jonathan Demme and Bob Balaban). With today's technology, Fleischner can more accurately depict the truth of this ride and Ricky's story is all the better for it. What's not as emotional are the twists and turns on the other side of the narrative. The reality of the subway footage is so strong that Mariana's search, her clash with her daughter, and her struggle to go to work everyday while her son is out there in the world missing, feels staged and cold. Later in the film, Fleischner's ensemble is forced to confront Superstorm Sandy — an element that feels forced into the story rather than complimenting of it (even though Sandy's devastating effects are integral to a tale of modern New York). Stand Clear tries to sweep across all of the city instead of focusing on one fascinating point-of-view. But Ricky's contemplative ride under the city streets is surreal and powerful enough to make Stand Clear of the Closing Doors a real find for the Tribeca Film Festival. Even if the characters aren't fully conceived, the perspectives are. With Stand Clear, Fleischner has delivered a great "New York movie," because he shows us his New York. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More:Tribeca's 'G.B.F.': Why Can't Gay Movies Ever Have a Hollywood Ending?Tribeca's Child Abuse Film 'Dark Touch' Bends the Horror GenreTribeca's 'Some Velvet Morning' Is Not That Different From 'Star Trek' From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Why 'Oblivion' Writer and Oscar-Winner William Monahan Wasn't Credited
    By: Matt Patches Apr 25, 2013
    The notion doesn't come up when we're tucked into a movie theater seat watching the latest and greatest big budget blockbuster, but making a movie is an evolutionary process. Take Oblivion, for instance. The hiring an Oscar-winning screenwriter to take on an original idea is music to the ears of any moviegoer. In the case of Oblivion, director Joseph Kosinski's science fiction pitch, the sound was even sweeter. Rarely does Hollywood take a chance on an original blockbuster, but when William Monahan, Oscar-winner for Martin Scorsese's The Departed, was hired to pen the picture, the gamble made perfect sense. Monahan signed on to the movie in 2010 when Oblivion was still at Disney. The script would be based off Kosinski's original ideas, first put to print in a graphic novel version of the pitch. Hiring Monahan was a promise: fans would be getting a fresh sci-fi tale from a visionary director, brought to life by a guy with golden proof of his skills. Like with most films, writing Oblivion didn't stop at Monahan's initial draft. The movie eventually jumped from Disney to Universal, and between 2010 to 2012 when Oblivion began shooting, other writers including Karl Gajdusek (Tresspass) and Michael Ardnt (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) were brought on to rewrite and polish the work. The real surprise is the crediting in the final film — while many writers who write the first drafts of a movie receive "Written by" credits, even if their work has drastically changed, Monahan's name is nowhere to be found. Why? Hollywood.com reached out to the writer to see exactly why the movie opted out of including his name. According to Monahan's reps' official statement: "William Monahan did not seek screen credit on Oblivion. He did one contractual draft two years ago and there have been other writers under Joe's specific direction since then, as well as creative work between Joe and Tom. He regards the picture as Joe's baby, hopes he was of some assistance in realizing a long-standing ambition to bring Oblivion to the screen, and wishes Joe and Tom and Universal all success. He looks very much forward to seeing the picture." Those who caught Oblivion in theaters likely saw a version that took cues from Monahan's script, but either enough of it was altered or Monahan didn't see enough of his work in the finished film to feel a credit was deserving. Luckily for Kosinski, Oblivion still gets to pack the "Oscar-winning writer" credit: Ardnt picked up an Academy Award in 2007 for his work on Little Miss Sunshine. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Is 'Oblivion' An Accurate Apocalypse?Getting Spoilery About 'Oblivion'Tom Cruise Only Gets Hurt Handsomely From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Pain & Gain' Review: Wahlberg and The Rock Unleash Psychotic Machismo in Michael Bay's Best Film
    By: Matt Patches Apr 25, 2013
    According to Daniel Lugo, Mark Wahlberg's beefcake ringleader in Pain & Gain, ignoring fitness and letting your body turn to mush is "unpatriotic." Sitting on a pile of cash while twiddling your thumbs and watching hard-working people serve you is a crime against humanity. Having the will to take action, even if that action is kidnapping, torturing, mutilating, and obliterating a fellow man, is what America is all about. Being a "do-er" gives you the right to do anything. Lugo's delusional mantras are the adrenaline that forcefully pumps blood through the veins of Michael Bay's latest, a vicious condemnation of the "American Dream" overflowing with dimwitted behavior and gruesome acts of violence. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely adeptly spin an all-too-true story into a Burn After Reading-esque exercise in nihilism. Nearly everyone in Pain & Gain is an aggressive personality, warped by greed and self-righteousness: Lugo becomes empowered by a plan to kidnap millionaire Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) after a motivating speech from get-rich-quick speaker Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong); his accomplice Adrian (Anthony Mackie) follows him blindly, fed up with his day job and suffering from erectile dysfunction; the third piece to the puzzle, ex-con Paul (Dwayne Johnson), starts the movie saved by religion. By the end, he's overcome by a world of strippers, cocaine, and getting away with murder. The trio are a nightmarish Three Stooges act with a thirst for riches. As harebrained schemes always do, Lugo's bagging of Kershaw and extortion-by-torture blows up in his face. Bay's style from the retina-annihilating Transformers series carries over to Pain & Gain, where it seeps into the storytelling perfectly. His usual low-angle hero shots now echo the characters' crass egotism, while a palette of blinding colors match the plastic beauty of Miami. A smaller scale forces Bay to push himself further, which leads to exhilarating success — similar to last year's End of Watch, the director injects kineticism through putting us in the seat of the gang's car, on the nose of a pistol, or right up in Wahlberg's faces as he performs sit ups in the hot sun. Seizing the rated-R opportunity, Bay also depicts the details of the real 1995 kidnapping case in all their grizzly glory. Shalhoub is tased, beaten, burned, and mashed up to a bloody pulp in Pain & Gain — and that's just the first 40 minutes. By the time The Rock is grilling human hands and Wahlberg is returning a chainsaw to a local hardware store after cutting up bodies just an hour earlier, the movie wisely reminds us, "Still Based on a True Story." There are moments where Bay actively works against Markus and McFeely's script. Like Transformers' most groan-worthy moments, Pain & Gain manages to squeeze a great deal of crass humor tangential to the story. Some of it is in character — Paul is a staunch homophobe while Lugo can't help but look down at the obese. But Bay wavers in his ability to present this as an icky way of life. Sometimes, the ignorant commentary and bathroom jokes feel intentionally played for laughs. Making up for any misgivings is a cast maneuvering at peak performance. Wahlberg strikes that unnerving balance of naivete and confidence, the type of pompous nature that would lead an average joe to commit a crime that could put him on death row. The actor is downright hyperactive, and the script gives him the chance to flex his comedic and action muscles, two sides to a Hollywood leading man persona he's been toning up for nearly a decade. He even gets a "walk away from an explosion moment" — but here, it's judgmental to his inability to separate fact from fiction. Johnson is out of his element as the Jesus-loving Paul; the actor goes from gentle giant to a coke fiend version of Godzilla over the course of the movie, and it's daring work. Mackie, mostly known for his dramatic work, riffs on both of them and costar Rebel Wilson with whirlwind speed. Adrian's explanation for why he drinks breast milk is the reason they invented the acronym "WTF." Keeping Pain & Gain from greatness is a bloated runtime. At over two hours, the action stumbles along, mismatched with the pace Bay sets behind the camera. Ed Harris' detective character arrives late to the game, lighting a fire under the trio, but only after a lengthy stretch of antics that begin to grate. Melding the individual beats — however faithful the final product is — could have condensed the fever dream into a more palatable (and thrilling) story. Still, Bay gets it mostly right. Pain & Gain is a twisted byproduct of American fantasy. Bay's previous work may be a reason he had to make this movie in the first place, but regardless, it stands as a sharp bit of satire that provokes on every level. 3.5/5 What do you think? Tell Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes! More: 6 of Mark Wahlber's Unintentionally Hilarious MomentsWhere Do You Stand on Michael Bay?10 Comedies Inspired By Horrific Events From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Hyper-Adorable Shaun the Sheep to Get His Own Movie
    By: Matt Patches Apr 25, 2013
    Blame (thank?) the Internet: squeal-inducing, rapid-clapping, jump-up-and-down-because-you-can't-contain-yourself-and-must-immediately-proceed-to-Facebook-to-gush adorableness is all the rage. Cute cat, cute puppy, cute koala bear, cute malnourished komodo dragon — as long as a camera captures a wide-eyed creature at the right angle, any member of the animal kingdom can woo eager audiences. So it makes sense that Aardman Animation (Pirates! Band of Misfits, Chicken Run) would revive their most adorable creation for his own feature film. Confirmed by French production company Studio Canal, Aardman will produce a big screen vehicle for its popular character, Shaun the Sheep. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. Shaun first appeared in the Academy Award-winning short film A Close Shave, starring the iconic claymation duo Wallace and Gromit. Knowing full well that the fluffy sheep's adorable antics couldn't be contained to a 30-minute short, Shaun was later spun off in his own television show, Shaun the Sheep. Forty episodes of the kids show aired between 2007 and 2010, with a handful of additional episodes currently in production. The Shaun the Sheep movie will be directed by Aardman collaborators Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, and will see the titular character and his sheepish flock head to the big city to rescue their farmer. A release date was not part of the official announcement. With "cute" all the rage, there's no better time to translate Shaun for the big screen. Sorry, Meme Cats — the swooning landscape of the Internet needs a little more wool. Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: 7 Adorable Pics Of Lil Bub And Cute Things14 Adorable Animated AnimalsAnimated Movies That Made Us Cry From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)