Closeup: Mark Wahlberg
This week the artist formerly known as Marky Mark goes big, in several senses of the word, as a bodybuilding bank robber in Michael Bay’s action comedy Pain & Gain, opposite the artist formerly known as The Rock. Admittedly, Marky’s career has not been 100%, ahem, “Good Vibrations,” but considering he started out as a one hit wonder-slash-underwear model, his batting average is better than it has any right to be — as the Mark Wahlberg section on Blockbuster On Demand more than demonstrates. Feel it feel it!
The first big movie Wahlberg starred in and still the best: he plays a slightly dim kid from the San Fernando Valley with a big heart and an even bigger package who finds himself in the tail end of porn’s glory years. The visual audacity of Paul Thomas Anderson and a stellar supporting cast of Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, and Burt Reynolds makes this one a modern classic.
Wahlberg, George Clooney, and John C. Reilly play the crew on a swordfishing boat that takes a couple of wrong turns and makes a couple of bad decisions to wind up between two storms and a hurricane. If you ever wondered what it’s like to die in a freak accident at sea, this movie more than delivers.
Based on the true story of how Judas Priest replaced their lead singer, this movie has Wahlberg as the frontman of a Steel Dragon tribute band who ends up onstage and on tour with his heroes, with all the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll that entails — though it’s largely kept offscreen to keep our hero sympathetic. Jennifer Aniston costars as his faithful girlfriend.
There are not many pleasures better than a good old-fashioned heist film, and this one is better than most: Walhberg joins Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green and Edward Norton on Donald Sutherland’s team for, say it with me, one last job. Great action setpieces, and the car chase with the Mini Coopers is awesome.
Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar in 2007 for his Boston crime story about an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) embedded with the Irish Mob and a Mob kid (Matt Damon) rising through the Massachussetts State Police. Wahlberg plays “Angry Masshole Cop” to a T.
Steve Carell and Tina Fey are the main attraction here, as a bored married couple that gets into some classic mistaken identity intrigue, and the movie is a lot more fun than the posters made it look — in part because Mark Wahlberg’s cameo as a security expert who never wears a shirt is really funny.
Taking the lead from Charlton Heston in Tim Burton’s remake of the 1968 sci-fi classic, Wahlberg plays an astronaut crash-landed on a planet where speak, use tools, ride horses, and enslave human beings.
It’s only in the second decade of his film career that Wahlberg has ventured into comedy, and after a couple of solid cameos in other people’s movies, here he takes the lead in Seth Macfarlane’s raunchy story of a man and his walking, talking teddy bear.