"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday."
If you are a sensitive, politically correct, delicate type, you'll want to sit out Pain & Gain at the Cineplex this weekend. Michael Bay's glorious return to R-rated form is based on a true story and stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie as three clueless gym rats that get caught up in an extortion and kidnapping plot that goes horribly wrong. It's darkly funny because you can't believe something this outrageous actually happened, but along the way the movie is offensive to women, gays, blacks, Asians, fat people, small people, Christians, Jews and, well, basically everyone with a pulse. If you require a movie with a moral compass, move on.
Pain & Gain proves that misanthropy—a general contempt for mankind—can actually be funny to watch on-screen. It's certainly not the first movie to explore the comedy in hating humanity. To get you pumped up for Pain & Gain, here are 10 of our favorite misanthropic movies with a sense of humor.
Pink Flamingos: One of John Waters' early films has a bunch of degenerates competing for the title of "the filthiest person alive." By the time it all winds down and Divine is grinning at the camera while eating real dog excrement, there is no doubt who earns the title.
American Psycho: Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is completely detached from humanity, but he's trying to understand… by searching for deep meaning in the vapid pop songs of the '80s by people like Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis and the News. It doesn't work out so well, and he gleefully hacks apart a coworker (Jared Leto) with an ax to the tune of Huey Lewis' "Hip to Be Square."
Welcome to the Dollhouse: Poor Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo). She's not the best-looking seventh grader, plus she has to deal with an annoyingly cute younger sister, two parents that clearly favor her younger sibling, hostile classmates, and her own insecurities, of which there are many. By the time she's heating up fish sticks and slinging Kool-Aid to impress her brother's pal (Eric Mabius) who is way out of her league, you can't help but laugh at what a tragic figure she is.
WALL-E: So you think just because it is a G-rated animated family film that it can't be misanthropic? Think again. WALL-E is a robot cleaning up the mess on a polluted, uninhabitable Earth because the rest of humankind has gotten fat and now lives on a space station where they get around on little hover chairs because their muscles have atrophied and they are that lazy.
Heathers: "F**k me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Mother Teresa?" This is what one of the Heathers—the most popular clique at Westerburg High School—says to potential new recruit Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder). The Heathers love torturing the geeks and losers at their school, so Veronica and her new bad-boy boyfriend, J.D. (Christian Slater), decide to off the lead Heather and some date-rapist jocks. "The only place different social types can genuinely get along with each other is in heaven," says J.D. before he tries to blow up the school.
In the Company of Men: If they doled out gold statues for hating humanity, writer-director Neil LaBute would need to dedicate an entire room for all of his awards. Here we have two corporate jackasses (Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malloy) who compete to exact revenge on the female gender by targeting an uncorrupted deaf woman in their office and ruining her life.
Your Friends & Neighbors: While we're talking about Neil LaBute, we can't overlook this pitch-black comedy about a bunch of unhappy couples who fall into each other's beds. Jason Patric is terrifying yet funny when he describes the most important sexual encounter of his life to his pals because, to anyone listening, it is clearly a crime… but this doesn't even occur to Patric. Meanwhile, Catherine Keener is weary of sex with Ben Stiller because there is too much talking during and afterwards, but she finds that sleeping with women results in the same thing. By the time the credits roll, you'll be relieved to be single.
The Rules of Attraction: The second adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis book on this list (the first being American Psycho), The Rules of Attraction will make you weep for the future. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek)—who is actually the younger brother of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman—is a spoiled, oversexed student at Camden College, which is filled with a bunch of spoiled, oversexed students devoid of any redeeming qualities. Watch the hilarious, druggy, stream-of-consciousness montage that accompanies Victor's (Kip Pardue) recollection of his debaucherous trip to Europe.
Killer Joe: Based on a play by Tracy Letts, William Friedkin's film adaptation is about a young man (Emile Hirsch) who puts a hit on his mother to collect her life insurance policy. He doesn't expect that the titular hit man (Matthew McConaughey) will develop an inappropriate attraction to his younger sister (Juno Temple). Every character in this film is such a sad sack that you have to laugh—even when Gina Gershon is forced to fellate a piece of fried chicken.
Happiness: Of all the movies on this list, none has a more all-encompassing, joyously misanthropic worldview than this gem by Todd Solondz. All of the interconnected characters are looking for happiness in dark places: Philip Seymour Hoffman makes dirty prank calls, Lara Flynn Boyle is a self-absorbed writer who resides in New Jersey so she can be "living in a state of irony," Jane Adams only dates men that want to use her, Dylan Baker's character is a pedophile, Camryn Manheim kills her building's groping doorman and finds solace in sundaes, and so on. "Happiness what are you/ I haven't got a clue," goes the theme song written by Michael Stipe. Certainly no one in this movie has one.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as VOD services.