Pain & Gain

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub | R |

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COMEDY

You might assume that by the time four severed human hands end up barbecuing on a grill that Pain & Gain, about idiot bodybuilders who become unexpectedly successful kidnappers, has lost whatever grip it might have had on reality. Then a note flashes onscreen: "This is still a true story." It's unhinged, frenetic, darkly funny—and yes, mostly true.

The saga starts in the mid-'90s with Miami personal trainer Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg), a bewilderingly entitled dumbbell, who decides to snatch his rich-jerk client Victor (Shalhoub, exquisitely unlikable) and force him to sign over his assets. Since Daniel's gym buddies, born-again Christian Paul (Johnson) and juiced-up Adrian (Mackie), are even less cerebral than he is, they decide this is a swell idea and join in.

It all works surprisingly well—until it doesn't. Shalhoub is great as a victim so vile, even the police don't want to help him, while Wahlberg, Mackie and especially Johnson delight in gnawing on the scenery. (Rebel Wilson and Ken Jeong assist in small, funny roles.) It isn't all laughs, though. Pain's third act is as bloody as it is uneven, with the trio taking on a whole new level of felonies. Still, I think you have to admire how resolute the movie is in its commitment to ridiculousness.

Mud

Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Reese Witherspoon| PG-13 |

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DRAMA

Watching his parents bust up will get a boy to thinking about love. That's likely why Ellis (Sheridan) helps Mud (McConaughey), the rangy stranger hiding from the law on a Mississippi River island after defending the honor of his beloved Juniper (Witherspoon). The story is small but affecting, backed by strong acting (though it wastes Michael Shannon in a tiny role), and it's a delight to see McConaughey deepen as a performer.

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TYE SHERIDAN

HIS A-LIST RESUME

At just 16, Sheridan has starred with Matthew McConaughey (Mud), Brad Pitt (Tree of Life) and Nicolas Cage (Joe). "They're awesome, but they're just people like you and me," he says.

COUNTRY ROOTS

"I'm not a city boy," says the Texan. "I'm not a big fan of L.A. It's pretty dirty."

CAMPFIRE TALES

"[Matthew's] wife cooked for us," he says of camping with his costar. "His kids went fishing with us. We had a blast!"

BREAKTHROUGH BRIT

You played Wallis Simpson in Madonna's movie W.E. and now costar with Tom Cruise in Oblivion. You look completely different in all your roles!

For me, I don't care about my [appearance]. I'd rather have a shaved head if it were up to me!

How was Tom?

He's a fantastic team leader. Every morning he has a smile on his face and a cup of coffee in his hand, raring to go. He also has a lightness of spirit, and we were always giggling together. It was such a joy.

Your other new film Disconnect is about how relationships can be affected by the Internet and technology. Are you tech savvy?

I joined Twitter, but I need somebody to show me how to tweet! I do text a lot, and my mum may be better than me. She's very good on the iPad and uses emoji symbols.

Would you consider online dating?

I've never tried it, but all power to it. Anything that brings people together is fantastic. I have quite a few friends who met online and got married. If I tried it out myself, my boyfriend [artist Joe Appel] would feel very uncomfortable!

ALWAYS IN STYLE

The documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, out May 3, goes inside the vaults of N.Y.C.'s legendary Fifth Avenue fashion fortress, revealing the stories and stars behind the store's 111-year history.

Barbra Streisand 1965

In her My Name Is Barbra TV special, she sang and danced through Bergdorf's after hours.

Carol Channing 1964

Dolly got all dolled up during an elaborate hat fitting with Halston. The renowned designer first found fame as Bergdorf's head milliner, topping off the likes of Elizabeth Taylor.

Jackie and John F. Kennedy 1961

"Jackie asked Bergdorf's to design her Inauguration gown," says director Matthew Miele. She was also the first to hire a personal shopper.

Sex and the City 2 2009

Bergdorf's served as Carrie Bradshaw's luxury playground, and personal shopper Betty Halbreich consulted on the show's sexy look. "It's part of the legacy," says Miele.