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Mark Wahlberg & Dwayne Johnson Frontrunners For Michael Bay's Low Budget Dark Comedy 'Pain And Gain'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 5, 2011 at 3:40PM

So, what does a Michael Bay movie look like without $100 million dollars worth of explosions and Victoria's Secret models? We'll soon find out. The director is pushing ahead with plans to do a smaller film after his trilogy of "Transformers" movies and despite the low budget -- somewhere around $20 million bucks -- he may be getting two pretty big starts to help him out.
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Michael Bay Pain And Gain Mark Wahlberg Dwayne Johnson

So, what does a Michael Bay movie look like without $100 million dollars worth of explosions and Victoria's Secret models? We'll soon find out. The director is pushing ahead with plans to do a smaller film after his trilogy of "Transformers" movies and despite the low budget -- somewhere around $20 million bucks -- he may be getting two pretty big starts to help him out.

Variety reports that "The Other Guys" duo of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson are the frontrunners to take the lead roles in the film. Based on an article in the Miami New Times about the real-life extortion ring and a kidnapping plot that goes horribly awry, hatched by a couple of Floridian bodybuilders, the film has a script by "Captain America: The First Avenger" writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the latter of whom told us it vibes like a certain Coen Brothers dark comedy. "It’s 'Fargo,' you know? What William Macy does in 'Fargo' is sort of dark – on its face, he hires people to kidnap his wife. So there’s a way you can treat these things,” McFeely told us in the fall. Markus, meanwhile, observed that the film finds its moral footing even as it depicts these characters committing terrible crimes.

“Your main characters are not your moral center,” he revealed. “We didn’t undarken what happens - that’s pretty much accurate. But it becomes very obvious that it’s wrong. In a weird way, morality just sort of finds its own level, because what the people are doing is so explicitly wrong that right becomes almost clearer.”

McFeely continued, “It’s a dance, because you’re rooting for them to get caught, but we couldn’t make them un-understandably evil. So the challenge is maybe to more figure out why these guys, why this series of crimes, made sense to these guys, and why they would do it. And then, you don’t want them to succeed, but we get why they do it.”

Nothing is locked down just yet with the trade reporting that Johnson is a bit further along in talks, but Wahlberg's participation will depend on his already busy schedule. But should it work out, these are definitely two guys who we could see nailing a dark comedic tone with ease. Though whether Bay, not exactly known for being subtle, can match the material remains to be seen.

This article is related to: Pain And Gain, Michael Bay, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson


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