Pain & Gain (15, 129 mins)
Director: Michael Bay
Three Transformers movies in, and with another to follow next year, you'd be forgiven for having had quite enough of director Michael Bay.
But with low budget action comedy Pain & Gain, he steps away from the bluster and overload of those woeful robot orgies and demonstrates not only that he still knows how to make movies, but that he's got a sense of humour.
Taking that a step further, it may quite possibly demonstrate that he's well aware of his own ridiculousness and excesses as a filmmaker, and is happy to play with those perceptions. Visually it out-Bays Bay most of the time, with its bleached palette, slo-mo action and camera flyovers, and it would play like a parody if it weren't so knowingly self-mocking.
What's most amazing about Pain & Gain is that it's breathlessly funny, and wickedly smart in just how stupid it is. It's based on real events that took place in the mid 90s in Miami, where Mark Wahlberg works as a fitness instructor but wants more from his existence. To that end he hatches a plan to kidnap one of his clients, Tony Shalhoub, and relieve him of several million.
Needing an accomplice, he enlists the help of Dwayne Johnson's recently released criminal. Unfortunately for them, but entertainingly for us, they've barely a brain cell between them, so anything that can go wrong does, as they dig themselves into ever deeper and dafter holes.
It's a sick, hilarious farce that's part Guy Ritchie caper, but also recalls the great kidnap-gone-wrong comedies like Outrageous Fortune, mixed with the ironic sensibilities of a Coen brothers film wrapped up in a twisted vision of the American dream.
But most of all it's Bay doing something different and exceeding expectations wildly, at the same time proving he does actually know how to make actors behave like believable human beings in a well written scene.
And the result is a thoroughly entertaining riot with great, atypical performances from everyone involved and Johnson especially a revelation. At one point, as his character does something particularly moronic and unbelievable, a caption comes on screen to remind us that this is indeed, still, a true story.
It runs into some problems in the final stretch, losing a bit of momentum through over-plotting and outstaying its welcome a little as a result. But see Pain & Gain and enjoy a director's return to form while you can, and enjoy Wahlberg's goofy likeability before Bay sullies both with Transformers 4.
See it if you liked: Fargo, Spring Breakers, Outrageous Fortune
The Way, Way Back (12A, 103 mins)
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Awkward teen Duncan (Liam James) is unhappy when he's forced to spend the summer at a holiday home with his mother (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carell).
It's nice to see Carell playing against type as an unpleasant sort who harangues Duncan, who starts hanging around a water park to get away from the house.
That's when this gentle coming-of-age really comes alive, with the park run by Sam Rockwell's Owen, a slacker with a heart who takes Duncan under his wing. Rockwell knocks it out the park, with stream-of-nonsense dialogue that's an absolute scream, and he joins the annals of great fast-talking wiseasses, many of them played by Bill Murray.
There's an infectious sense of fun to counteract the moroseness that makes it tough to initially warm to Duncan and, truth be told, James is a little on the dull side. But with people of the calibre of Carell and Rockwell around to do the heavy lifting, that isn't too much of a problem.
See it if you liked: Adventureland, Little Miss Sunshine
You're Next (18, 95 mins)
Director: Adam Wingard
When the grown up children of a rich patriarch and their respective partners gather at the family home for an anniversary party, it's not long before they're being attacked by masked intruders.
There are a good number of gruesome kills to please gore fans as they start to get picked off, but there's little effort to develop tension beyond some tired "boo" moments, and for the most part this is a fairly generic home invasion horror, packed with desperately stupid people that roadmaps its revelations within minutes of starting.
And yet for all its idiocy, it almost threatens to develop into something interesting in the final third, with stabs at dark humour that are out of place with what's come before. If that slightly dafter tone had been present from the start, or the laughs fully committed to, there could have been something here, something like a condensed version of Harper's Island. As it stands, it's a missed opportunity.
See it if you liked: The Strangers, Last House on the Left, The Purge
One Direction: This Is Us (PG, 92 mins)
Director: Morgan Spurlock
As long as you disregard the concert footage and accept the notion that this is music that couldn't really get any worse, then this profile of overnight-sensation boyband One Direction is really quite engaging.
The main thing to note is how well they come across, a bunch of cheeky, decent lads having some fun ever since Simon Cowell moulded them from five X Factor rejects into the biggest band in the world, a phenomenon perhaps not seen since The Beatles.
We follow them on their worldwide tour, focussing on the heartfelt devotion of the fans, and their sincere gratitude for it, noting that they're constantly on the road and working incredibly hard, at the same time as they're little more than wee boys whose mammies miss them.
Sure it's a whitewash, with Cowell no doubt supervising every frame to ensure there's no suggestion that they drink or swear or stay up past 10.30.
But it's got a sense of humour, wheeling out a neuroscientist to explain about the dopamine and the affect this has on the hyperventilating throngs of teenage girls who follow them.
What's of even more interest is the unprecedented amounts of money that facilitates - this may be music that makes Take That look like Led Zeppelin, but that's very far indeed from the point.