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Pick of the week: Michael Bay’s self-mocking crime farce

With his pumped-up and violent crime farce “Pain & Gain” – a thoroughly reprehensible and frequently hilarious satire that depicts American life as a circus of stupidity, artificiality and self-regard -- Michael Bay sends a clear message to those of us who’ve been making fun of him: He’s been in on the joke the whole time. I can think of a variety of responses to this, but they all basically boil down to “Yeah, so what else is new?”

There has always been a powerful current of self-mockery, or at least self-awareness, in Bay’s ludicrous “Transformers” movies, which embraced bigness, loudness, dumbness, visual incoherence and cartoonish female pulchritude (see: Fox, Megan, entire career of) as central formal elements and stylistic first principles. I wasn’t the only critic to observe that Bay’s enormous 2011 hit, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” had elements of avant-garde surrealism and elements of high camp, and could be described as a “performance-art act of juvenile Id-fulfillment.”

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