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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Transformers 3': Will John Malkovich and Frances McDormand get a robot-sized paycheck?

March 22, 2010 | 12:06 pm

 MalkovichShia La Beouf and Megan Fox are returning to "Transformers 3," which is already set for a July 1, 2011, release date. But the real news is that Michael Bay has managed to lure John Malkovich and Frances McDormand into joining his noisy robot blockbuster sequel, which is sort of like getting Rufus Wainwright and Neko Case to sing a couple of duets with Taylor Swift.

You can color me impressed, since Bay (best described by the New Yorker's David Denby as "the stunningly untalented Michael Bay") isn't really known for his Elia Kazan-style devotion to actors (though "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" did feature the presence of John Turturro). Since it's hard to imagine that either Malkovich or McDormand have an abiding fascination for robots or a true love for standing in front of a green screen, we're just guessing that their agents must have uttered the immortal words: "Show me the money."

Greenbacks aside, the casting move is something of a mystery, since let's face it: Bay is dreaming if he thinks that the precense of Malkovich and McDormand will class up the movie enough to make critics like it. And it's not like the franchise needs a couple of Oscar types to help it out at the box office, where it has raked in mountains of shekels, despite some of the most witheringly bad reviews in recent history.

McDormand But here's my question to you. It's pretty obvious that the actors are doing this for a nice fat paycheck. Does that bother you? You could argue that both actors have shown enormous devotion to their craft over the years, so they're entitled to rake in some cash, especially in an era when there are fewer and fewer speciality films for them to star in. Or you could argue that it's still a bad idea, citing the example of John Cusack, who lost a sizable chunk of audience goodwill by cashing in on his bona fides in the supremely laughable "2012." Or to put it in two words: Nicolas Cage.

I'm not much of a stickler for high-mindedness, since I still love and adore Michael Caine, even if he did star in "Jaws: The Revenge" and "Bewitched." His reputation remains untarnished by dozens of bad movies. But Cage is now considered a total hack after taking too many paycheck parts. I'm hoping Malkovich and McDormand can survive the "Transformers" cringe factor. What do you think? 

Top photo: John Malkovich. Credit: Paladin

Bottom photo: Frances McDormand. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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