Aug 14, 2020
Transformers 4: Michael Bay Makes A Movie For Rich Jocks Who Love Bud Light
A lot of people don’t know this, but Transformers 4 had a budget of twenty billion dollars. I’m sure of it. See, I did the math, and it’s simply the only number that makes sense. I know. Shocking. To put things in perspective, that’s two billion dollars more than the GDP of Honduras.
In my travels, I’ve befriended a few Hollywood accountants, so I’m uniquely equipped to provide this definitive estimate. I’ll skip over the boring technicalities (sorry, math majors) and cut to the key factor that led to it, stated in layman’s terms: showbiz accounting is nakedly criminal and all Hollywood accountants should be in jail.
There, you’re caught up.
To put Transformers 4’s price tag into even more perspective, it’s estimated that Avatar cost two hundred and eighty million dollars to make. But we know that all Hollywood accountants are rampaging psychopaths, so let’s adjust for basic decency and assume Avatar cost nine hundred million dollars. A conservative estimate, granted. Even so, Transformers 4 still beats it by nineteen billion dollars, with a hundred million left over. When people talk about Hollywood being cut off from reality, this is what they mean. It’s these damn twenty billion dollar movies being rubbed in our faces.
You’re probably asking what my evidence is. You know I’m right, but you need proof and charts and stuff. You definitely need an infographic with a funny picture of Michael Bay’s face on it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the design skills to give you that reassurance, but I’ll show my work anyway:
Transformers 4 has commercials in it.
Let me say that again in italics: commercials. I don’t mean product placement. We’re not talking about Tony Stark having a Nintendo Wii in his leisure room. We’re talking full blown ads. Watching Transformers 4 is like walking into an exploding mall where the Apple Store is totally pristine somehow. Victoria’s Secret logos in the middle of the frame, enough B-roll of concept cars to stitch into the 2015 ad season, and a main character who straight-up gloats that he got a Red Bull sponsorship. The film’s human villain literally says some variant of “you like music?” and then holds up a Beats By Dre wireless speaker. The camera lingers on this, in loving close-up.
And in the third act, Michael Bay lurches everything to a complete stop so Mark Wahlberg can crash his car into a Bud Light truck and punch out the driver or something (I don’t remember exactly, and who cares). Wahlberg then takes a Bud Light and drinks it both for cool refreshment and to ease his battle-weary mind. He loves that Bud Light. And even though Chicago has been totally ruined by robots, this new space age-looking bottle of Bud is factory clean.
For this reason, and others, Michael Bay is amazing. Now, Armond White is a genius, but I can’t do what he does, and I’m not gonna try. So I’ll just say the sheer audacity of this movie makes it almost watchable. With Transformers 4, Michael Bay pins all of his hopes on the continued survival of capitalism. It’s a wild celebration of having fuck-you money. If unemployment gets much higher, it’s the kind of movie he could get assassinated over as a formal declaration of the class war.
I’ve written before about how blindness to poverty can ruin movies. It certainly ruined Walter Mitty, which suggests that enlightenment is something available mostly to people who can afford to live in Manhattan and buy plane tickets. But it doesn’t ruin Transformers 4, and that’s a testament to Michael Bay’s total lack of pretension.
Here he has made a movie where idiocy rises to an art form. He makes no claims toward telling a story or getting a message across. The script is so inane that it is jam-packed with words like “friggin’” and “sucky.” The first word in it is “shit.” You don’t even mind the twenty billion dollar budget, because this is what would happen if an 11 year old snuck into Bill Gates’ house and blew up all his shit.
It is in this way that Michael Bay has risen up and become the auteur of insane rich jocks. Nobody else can make movies that are such a perfect window into the psyche of a high school quarterback with a coke habit. Watching Transformers 4 is like lifting weights in the front row of an AC/DC concert.
The whole thing is an ideological disregard for subtlety, for complete sentences even. The scenes in Texas play like somebody told Steven Tyler to recreate a George Strait video. It’s so idiotic that Mark Wahlberg, who is every bad stereotype about Boston in one person, plays a Texan. It’s so idiotic that even though this is toy robots fighting each other, it’s 12 minutes longer than the theatrical cut of Apocalypse Now.
I could take the high road and explain that I was pressured into watching this by my family, and I could defend my aesthetic judgment by saying I once drove 3 hours out of town to see a Jim Jarmusch movie by myself. But I won’t say either of those things in a public setting. Instead I’ll simply say that this has beautiful explosions made by a man who clearly loves explosions more than he loves people, and if you want to see your childhood toys blow up Chicago, then it works. Kelsey Grammer is fun too as the evil politician who forces the robots to blow stuff up.
Too bad it’s overlong by 80 minutes. Too bad it features a toy robot saying “you’re dead, bitch.” Too bad it has a main character prominently say fuck for no reason. The showing I went to consisted mostly of 9 year olds, because this is a movie for 9 year olds. So Michael Bay spent twenty billion dollars teaching 9 year olds to drink Bud Light and say fuck. You’d think there’d be a law against that.