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Weekend Preview: Michael Bay's Latest a 'Pain'-Filled Experience; Jeff Nichols' 'Mud' Captivates Critics; Skip 'The Big Wedding'

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 25, 2013 at 3:42PM

Fans of Michael Bay and his cast of beefy cohorts will likely flock to dumb male comedy "Pain & Gain," a soulless, "low-budget" exercise in machismo that has appalled critics. Those looking for lighter fare might seek solace in "The Big Wedding," which has earned universal pans despite its top-drawer cast. They are better off RSVPing to another event, such as "Take Shelter" director Jeff Nichols' southern drama "Mud," which premiered at Cannes, starring Matthew McConaughey, or the Oscar-nominated maritime doc "Kon Tiki," which traces a Norwegian's journey in 1947 across the Pacific Ocean in a balsa wood raft.
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Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'
Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'

Fans of Michael Bay and his cast of beefy cohorts will likely flock to dumb male comedy "Pain & Gain," a soulless, "low-budget" exercise in machismo that has appalled critics. Those looking for lighter fare might seek solace in "The Big Wedding," which has earned universal pans despite its top-drawer cast. They are better off RSVPing to another event, such as "Take Shelter" director Jeff Nichols' southern drama "Mud," which premiered at Cannes, starring Matthew McConaughey, or the Oscar-nominated maritime doc "Kon Tiki," which traces a Norwegian's journey in 1947 across the Pacific Ocean in a balsa wood raft.

Also opening are Ramin Bahrani's agro-drama "At Any Price," with Zac Efron in another arthouse turn following Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy," as well as two book-to-film adaptations by Indian women directors with solid track records: Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children," and Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist."

Finally, "Arthur Newman" starring Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, which premiered to little applause at TIFF, opens in specialty theaters. The film was recently featured on TOH! for its unique distribution campaign.

See all the trailers after the jump.

Mud Dir. Jeff Nichols, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Matthew McCoughnahey, Tye Sheridan, Reese Witherspoon | 93% Fresh | Entertainment Weekly: "There's something old-fashioned about "Mud," but if you allow yourself to settle into its leisurely pace, it will reward you." | Read Indiewire's interview with Jeff Nichols and review, TOH's review round-up and video interview with McConaughey.

Kon-Tiki Dirs. Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, Norway | The Weinstein Company | Cast: Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgard | 81% Fresh | Variety: "This is filmmaking of great ambition and ability, though it’s not always conducive to solid storytelling." | Our TOH! review.

At Any Price Dir. Ramin Bahrani, USA | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Heather Graham | 63% Fresh | LA Times: "A complicated and revelatory look at the intersection of country folk and corporate might." | The Playlist review.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Dir. Mira Nair, USA | IFC Films | Cast: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber | 62% Fresh | Village Voice: "At times it's dense and sluggish, too much like a novel. But there is some exhilaration to be had."

Pain & Gain Dir. Michael Bay, USA | Paramount | Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson | 49% Rotten | The New York Times: "It all leaves you pondering whether you have just seen a monumentally stupid movie or a brilliant movie about the nature and consequences of stupidity." | TOH's review and round-up.

Midnight's Children Dir. Deepa Mehta, Canada, UK | 108 Media, Paladin | Cast: Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami | 44% Rotten | The Hollywood Reporter: "The film is ambitious and often sumptuous to watch but not always dramatically satisfying."

Arthur Newman Dir. Dante Ariola, USA | Cinedigm | Cast: Colin Firth, Emily Blunt, Anne Heche | 29% Rotten | AV Club: "A standard-issue, earnest American indie, where the people do what’s needed to serve the plot and the point."

The Big Wedding Dir. Justin Zackham, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams | 0% Rotten | Chicago Sun-Times: "The movie is bland hackwork; its crime isn't incompetence, but indifference."

This article is related to: Pain & Gain, Michael Bay, Kon-Tiki, Jeff Nichols, Mud, Mira Nair, Arthur Newman


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.