Pain and Gain Movie Review
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Pete Collins
Release Date: 26 April 2013
Running Time: 129 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 3 out of 4 Dwayne Johnsons grilling disembodied hands in broad daylight
I’ll be honest with you all: I didn’t know this was a Michael Bay flick until I saw the credits at the end, but when I did, the sheer absurdity of this movie made a lot more sense. So did some of the whitewashing of the actual people the film is based on once I looked these guys up. Flat out, it’s a dumb action comedy about some really dumb action comedy main characters based on some even dumber people who actually existed.
Danny Lugo likes fitness. Like, really likes fitness. He loves working out, training himself, pushing himself to become the peak of physical perfection he knows he can be. He has friends that he works out with. They also love fitness. They also love transforming their bodies into virtual Adonises. Of course, a lot of that requires the use of steroids, but who cares. They’re making their dreams come true.
Except they’re not. Danny might have found a new gig at a place in Miami called Sun Gym and turned it into a Mecca for meatheads, juicers, strippers and people who like strippers, but he still feels shorted. He wants more. He’s an American, dang it, and he deserves his American dream. So how does he do it? He kidnaps a rather unlikeable client of his and slowly extorts him out of everything he owns over the course of a month. Don’t worry, it’s funnier than it sounds, until you realize that this is based in reality.
The best part of this film is its characters. Mark Wahlberg’s Danny is a funny, cocky, and insecure person that does the silliest stuff to get others to take him seriously. His delusions of grandeur ultimately undo himself and his friends, but you kind of can’t help but giggle at his rather relentless optimism and overconfidence. Even if he’s in a situation he’s never experienced before, Danny Lugo always knows how to get out of it.
Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie) is mainly a counterpart to Danny, the type B to his type A. He does come off as a little stereotypical, and pays the price of starring alongside Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. Basically, he gets a slight bit of attention from the script, but it’s all about how he likes big butts and money. Classy.
Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, his character Paul Doyle is the most entertaining personality in the film, primarily because he doesn’t exist except in the film. In reality, Doyle is a composite of three other members of the Sun Gym gang, and it seems like the blender that the writers put these three into was mixed with a whole bunch of artistic license for the sake of adding jokes to what is essentially a terrible course of events. However, I do want to say that seeing Johnson in a tight pink shirt with a slogan like “Get Ripped for Jesus” or some other nonsense and spouting gospel while participating in a kidnapping and torture of another human being is just delicious. He’s worth the price of admission.
But the guy who really pays it off and actually brings a lot of the sympathy to the other three is the person they kidnap in the first place. Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub) is a giant polyp of a man, existing simply to grow fatter, more annoying, and ultimately die having done nothing with his wealth except taunt poor people with it. He’s so easy to hate that it was almost disturbing to see how quick I went from being scared for Victor to rooting for the Sun Gym boys to just shut him up. But of course, these idiots can’t do anything right.
In the end, Pain and Gain isn’t going to make you smarter. It’s not going to enlighten you. It’s just going to shut you up for a couple hours while you watch three idiots bumble their way through felony after felony after felony, and then amaze you with how long they keep doing it and don’t get caught. It’s senseless. It’s dumb. It’s a pure spectacle that varies widely from the source material, using lazy characterization and stereotypical traits to avoid having to be faithful to the people they’re representing, and… and…
I should have realized this was a Michael Bay movie way before the credits rolled.
**I watched this film via a streaming service I pay for. Don’t let the kids watch this one, it’ll make ‘em dumb. I was not compensated for this review.**
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