Tampa Movie Weekend: Backlash for “Pain & Gain”; “The Big Wedding,” “Mud,” “The Company You Keep,” “Arthur Newman,” “The Numbers Station”

“Pain & Gain,” Michael Bay’s “little” $26 million comedy-laced crime movie, has been generating a bit of anger along with the bad reviews. Real-life victims of South Florida’s musclehead Sun Gym Gang killers, portrayed in the film by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie, are complaining that Bay has used grisly murders merely as grist for comic relief.

Marc Schiller, a wealthy businessman who survived a month of torture at the hands of the thugs, has loudly protested about being characterized as an unscrupulous scammer, somehow deserving of his fate. “I don’t understand why they want to make me look like a bad guy,” he told the Miami New Times, the newspaper that drew attention for its coverage of the mid-’90s crimes. The sister of Frank Griga, who was beaten to death by gang members, has expressed her disgust with the Hollywood-style trivialization of the events. “To show these killers as a couple of funny, nice guys who made a couple of blunders is indecent.”

Meanwhile, Wahlberg and Johnson are defending their involvement. “We made the movie … for selfish reasons, to play characters that are so outrageous that you really get to go crazy with your performance and push the envelope a lot,” Wahlberg told the Tampa Bay Times. Said Johnson: “Keep in mind, too, that at the end of the day the individuals who committed these crimes paid for what they did, and they’re paying now. They got what they deserved.”

Also opening:

  • “The Big Wedding” — Nuptials-themed romantic comedy with a cast of stars (including some big ones); a “surprisingly hard” R, some have said; rotten, according to Rotten Tomatoes
  • “Mud” — Southern-fried indie drama starring Matthew McConaughey as a mysterious, maybe dangerous character befriended by two young boys; getting good buzzmud
  • “The Company You Keep” — Robert Redford-directed thriller that may or may not glamorize an aging domestic terrorist (Redford) — you know, like Weather Underground anarchist Bill Ayers, long-ago associate of Obama. Crackerjack cast: Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Sam Elliott, Julie Christie)
  • “Arthur Newman” — Oddly shaped, largely underwhelming drama with Colin Firth as the title character, a sad guy who shucks his old life for a new identity, along the way finding something like love with a damaged woman played by Emily Blunt; partly set in Florida, with some sequences apparently shot there
  • “The Numbers Station” — Thriller starring the usually reliable John Cusack as a federal government killer tasked with the safety of a sexy cryptologist (Malin Akerman)

Razzie Nominations Honor the Year’s Worst Movies

Yes, the Oscar nominations didn’t vary much from what had been expected, although I’m pleased that District 9 picked up a best picture nomination – that, despite the fact that its last act sort of devolved into a giant-robots romp. And it’s always nice to see director/provocateur Quentin Tarantino get attention.

I’m bummed that Duncan Jones Moon, one of the year’s most intriguing films, nad also one of 2009’s best from a newcomer, isn’t in the mix. Sam Rockwell, still underrated, gave another terrific performance, this time as a troubled astronaut with, uh, some identity issues (I don’t want to give anything away, as so many people have yet to see the film; I’d bet that the DVD release is going to boost the movie’s fortunes). The story, although certainly hinting at sci-fi classics, including 2001 and the original Solaris, was refreshing, and utterly compelling.

But, on to the more entertaining movie awards nominations – the RAZZIES, for the worst films of 2009. It’s a good thing that Sandra Bullock didn’t limit her work in 2009 to All About Steve. And it’s encouraging to see the overlong, poorly acted, embarrassingly scripted, sexist and tremendously annoying Transformers sequel get slapped around so decisively, with seven nominations. Yeah, I know: Michael Bay is crying all the way to the bank.

Herewith, the list. The 30th Annual RAZZIE Awards ceremony will be held in Hollywood on March 6, the night before the Oscars. For more details, go to the official Razzies site.

Worst Picture:
All About Steve
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Land of the Lost
Old Dogs
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Worst Actor:
Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas — Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
Will Ferrell — Land of the Lost
Steve Martin — Pink Panther 2
Eddie Murphy — Imagine That
John Travolta — Old Dogs

Worst Actress:
Beyonce Knowles — Obsessed
Sandra Bullock — All About Steve
Miley Cyrus — Hannah Montana: The Movie
Megan Fox — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Sarah Jessica Parker — Did You Hear About The Morgans?

Worst Screen Couple:
Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas — Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper — All About Steve
Will Ferrell and any co-star, creature or “comic riff” — Land of the Lost
Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox or any Transformer — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner — Twilight Saga: New Moon

Worst Supporting Actress:
Candice Bergen — Bride Wars
Ali Larter — Obsessed
Sienna Miller — G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Kelly Preston — Old Dogs
Julie White — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Worst Supporting Actor:
Billy Ray Cyrus — Hannah Montana: The Movie
Hugh Hefner — Miss March
Robert Pattinson — Twilight Saga: New Moon
Jorma Taccone — Land of the Lost
Marlon Wayans — G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Worst Remake, Rip-off or Sequel:
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Land of the Lost
Pink Panther 2
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Twilight Saga: New Moon

Worst Director:
Michael Bay — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Walt Beeker — Old Dogs
Brad Silberling — Land of the Lost
Stephen Sommers — G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Phil Traill — All About Steve

Worst Screenplay:
All About Steve
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Land of the Lost
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Twilight Saga: New Moon

Worst Picture of the Decade:
Battlefield Earth
Freddy Got Fingered
I Know Who Killed Me
Swept Away

Worst Actor of the Decade:
Ben Affleck
Eddie Murphy
Mike Myers
Rob Schneider
John Travolta

Worst Actress of the Decade:
Mariah Carey
Paris Hilton
Lindsay Lohan
Jennifer Lopez