Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pain & Gain: Movie Review


Not much action, but there is comedy as muscleheads set off to achieve the American dream.
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and Adrien Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) are the very definition of muscleheads – more muscles than brains. Paul Doyle (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a Christian musclehead who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour. They believe in the American dream. If other people have what they want, then, therefore, they should get it. That is the full extent of logic that they could exercise. The premise is funny and the film manages to follow through on that promise. 2013

Directed by: Michael Bay

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on articles by Pete Collins

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, Dwayne Johnson, Tony Shalhoub

Lugo is the ring-leader, a top-tier body-builder in Miami, and his get rich quick schemes haven’t really panned out all that well in the past, but this time, he’s going to follow the advice a TV commercial life coach: “Do be a do-er, don’t be a don’t-er.” The film starts off rather slowly, apparently letting the writing speak for itself, but the jokes seem a little off-balance. A little low-key (relatively low-key) and are based on dichotomies between what they’re observing and what they’re deciding to do.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.(Left to right) Dwayne Johnson as Paul Doyle, Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo
and Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal in PAIN AND GAIN, directed by Michael Bay
from Paramount Pictures. (c) 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
For a Michael Bay film, there’s not much action – only one explosion! But the film picks up speed as the muscleheads get further along in their ludicrous plan, and the comedy keeps on coming. They really do say and do the dumbest things, but it’s entertaining to laugh at them because they whole-heartedly believe in what they’re doing. Or at least Lugo believes in what they’re doing; Adrien just doesn’t know any better, and Doyle believes in both God and doing more coke – whichever gives him the better high in the moment.

“Pain & Gain” is set in the ‘90s in Miami and although they had a few fluorescent colours and jean shorts, they didn’t give us quite as much topical humour as I was expecting. But the film still suits the times – with a sort of choppy but glamorous look. Rumour has it that Michael Bay used more longer takes than any of his previous films. I haven’t seen any of his recent movies, so I wouldn’t know, but this one is way more geared towards the crime-riddled plot and the comedic writing than any action that the director is known for.

There is a strange obsession with male genitalia – jokes about real ones, and many shots of fake ones to go along with a few characters’ denial of and hatred of homosexuality. I’m not sure what the point of that was. Perhaps that was part of what really happened. Unfortunately, as the narrator says, this is a true story. These muscleheads really are trying to get their piece of the American pie, the stupidest way they know how. It’s also too long – a straight forward crime comedy has no need to be over two hours long.

The appearance of Ed Harris lends the film some credibility – some much needed credibility, and Rebel Wilson adds an extra touch of comedy. Overall, “Pain & Gain” does a decent job of telling a ridiculously true story comedically, and violently, and a little self-indulgently.

Similar Titles:

Spring Breakers (2012) - Breaks the spring-break-genre mold by telling a dark story of college girls going to darker and darker places.

Seven Psychopaths (2012) - Finding the middle ground between comedy, violence and psychopaths.

Flypaper (2011) - A crime comedy that's unique and messy and nowhere near realistic.