More shocking than making this dark, disturbing, bizarre crime into a comedy is that the director is Michael Bay and that the result is reminiscent of the Cohen brothers. Yes, you just read a comparison of the Cohen brothers and Michael Bay. It is a funny film but it has some very serious undercurrents that flow, consistently, throughout.
This is the best film Bay ever directed--by far.
It takes a bizarre and vicious crime and finds humor in it--and of course people found humor in it at the time? There are weightlifters, shady money men, pornographers and barbecued body parts involved. AND it took place in Miami which means it was probably only in the top five weird crimes of the year.
The film does more than find humor in the darkness--it manages to also be a multifaceted morality tale. The victim's problems begin because of his great personal flaw (he is a jerk). The three partners in crime want an easy payday. They are jealous of the wealth they see daily in their clients. They are willing to work but they overvalue themselves and take short cuts that lead to their doom.
Virtually every character introduced could be in a medieval morality play. They are all flawed and their flaws lead to disasters on varying levels. The only exception here is the moral center of the movie--a retired detective played by Ed Harris. Harris, content in his life, does not strive, does not run afoul of The Furies that inhabit the film.
The grisliness and the sheer stupidity of everything that happens might fall flat if the audience didn't walk in knowing this is a more or less true story. Not everyone who sees this will delve deep enough to see the morality play here and there is no reason they should. The film works perfectly fine if the viewer only cares to see the surface.
It isn't uproarious or obvious but it works as a straight up comedy. Michael Bay has done himself proud. Let us hope his next film is a smart comedy with no buddies, no robots and no explosions.