Comedy in disguise

Starring Shia LaBoeuf, Megan Fox, John Turturro and Rachael Taylor. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Back in the mid-'80s, I was admittedly more interested in Barbies and She-Ra than the boy show Transformers. Gender differences aside, the idea of robots turning into cars and trucks and helicopters and stuff was still pretty darn cool. Yeah, I even know the theme song.

Now 20 years later, a childhood memory is on the big screen—and at my boyfriend’s urging, we waited patiently in line on opening night anticipating the two-plus hours of testosterone ahead of us. We were right about the testosterone part—big machines, cool cars, military guys and hot chicks (and about the two-plus hours—a bit long).

But what I wasn’t expecting was humor that shows the movie’s makers (more on director Michael Bay in a minute) were well aware of its inherent cheesiness. Killer robots from space, anyone? Had Bay attacked this one with the same overseriousness he did Armageddon, he’d be in big trouble. That said, his editing style is nauseating at times—extreme close-ups of Transformers, uh, transforming is just unnecessary.

The storylines are many and get a little confusing, but the gist is that two clans of robots have landed on Earth—the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys). Shia LaBoeuf discovers one of the Autobots in the form of a used Camaro. (LaBoeuf, by the way, plays the perfect cute, awkward teenager. And he shows all the guys in the audience that even a dork can get the smokin'-hot babe.)

The Decepticons land in Qatar in a bizarre U.S. military twist—this is actually the opening segment of the film. That gets the Department of Defense in on the deal (Jon Voight plays the secretary). The bad guys and good guys are on Earth searching for the same thing—a mysterious cube that apparently will help them re-create their planet, which they’ve blown up—and inevitably end in a full-on showdown.

The scenes between the Transformers are simply fantastic—CGI at its best—and probably what the menfolk are going to show up for. Thankfully for the rest of us, despite a bit of corniness, this film is more than meets the eye.