Pain & Gain – 3 out of 5
Michael Bay takes the caffeine-mainlined, cocaine-fueled pace he is known for and puts it towards a stylized crime comedy based on a true story…hey, at least he’s taking a break from his repeated rapes he’s giving to the childhood of most men in America…that is, until the next Transformers movie and the reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes out. There he will set his sights on whatever other beloved piece of childhood awesome that he will fill with dick and humping jokes.
|"You BETTER say 'hi' to your mother for me!"|
Pain & Gain is about the true story of the Sun Gym Gang—a coalition of bodybuilders in Florida in the 90s who kidnapped a rich dickhead (played by Tony Shalhoub) and proceeded to torture all of his money out of him. It all begins with Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) being tired of not getting what he wants and not “living the American dream” so he sets his sights high and decides to beat the hell out of one of his clients (Shalhoub’s character) in order to get what he feels he is entitled to. He recruits two other bodybuilders—Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and a Jesus-freak/paroled prisoner; Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson)—and soon they set off in an orgy of drugs, violence, murder, money, steroids and a whole lot of reps.
|And then a 70s/80s era sitcom ending starts before the credits roll!|
I was back and forth on this movie the entire time I watched it. It started out really entertaining as we see Mark Wahlberg play a comically douchey weight-lifting junkie that felt like he wasn’t getting anywhere in life and decided he was going to take life by the steroid-shrunk balls and go on a crime caper to get what he wanted. It felt sharp and satirical right off the bat and it seemed some great humor was around the corner. But this is a Michael Bay film, so what the fuck was I thinking?
|At one point, Bay decided to film Walhberg like he was the American flag.|
Toby Keith got confused and wrote a song about how beautiful he was.
The movie quickly starts to fly off the rails as it gets incredibly violent and does so while throwing the comedy element out the window. Wahlberg’s character quickly goes from a potentially funny-provider to a terribly unlikeable character that I no longer wanted to watch and see how his story unfolded. However, The Rock gets introduced and is easily able to make up the difference (and even carry the movie back to being tolerable) with his very funny and endearing criminal character of Paul Doyle. And Anthony Mackie is there too but he, honestly, didn’t provide much to the film and was, tragically, forgettable...but he has his moments.
|This was definitely one of his moments.|
Pretty much the entire film goes back and forth from being your typical unwatchable garbage that Bay has become known for (although with an alarmingly fewer explosions than we’ve seen from him in the past…I hope he’s not getting sick) and something that will be the smartest, wittiest film he’s ever made. When this movie works, it fucking works and fires on all cylinders. Bay actually does a great job showing the over-the-top, almost unbelievable story of the Sun Gym Gang and presents it in a flashy, stylish way…and then when the movie doesn’t work, it’s unbearable to deal with.
|You know Bay fought over whether or not to add an explosion behind Rob Corddry here.|
A lot of the usual groan-inducing traumas that Bay likes to throw in his films (like obnoxious editing, bad sophomoric humor, etc.) all show up to make the film suck in a big way. All the creative things that makes this movie entertaining gets tossed out so Bay can make the film move and look like it was made entirely out of cocaine. There were times I just wanted the movie to slow down so I could appreciate the story but Bay, acting like he was screwing a hooker on the back of a nuclear bomb falling towards the ground, showed he didn’t have time for that and the film just got crazier and crazier.
|Like the sudden and pointless inclusion of a diarrhea joke.|
Granted, the real life story of Lugo and the Sun Gym Gang is pretty unbelievable to begin with and having Bay’s AD/HD style of filmmaking acted as a representation of how “reality is stranger than fiction” but it would often get to the point that I couldn’t tell if Bay was making a movie that showed how incredibly odd Lugo and his gang’s story was or if Bay was just making a parody of his own work. But every time the film started to get to hard to handle and the movie looked less like a work of entertainment and more like a metaphor for the frustration and annoyance a person feels when their asshole best friend decides to get drunk and try to start a fight with a man that can easily destroy him, The Rock’s character comes into play and does something simple to make the film amusing again.
|"The plan is simple...we make The Batman smell what I'm cooking."|
|Ed Harris has decided to go door-to-door to tell people |
about The Home Depot.
|Unfortunately, that's not make-up. Bay lost control of himself.|
I dug the story to this film but Bay clearly couldn’t keep this film from being a sharp, sleek and hilarious dark comedy about some beefed up muscle heads committing crimes to get rich quick as it quickly goes flying out of control. Pain & Gain had a lot of promise but it's painfully uneven as Bay can’t decide if he wants this to be a violent tale with a comedy edge or a comedy with a violent edge. The cast is great but only The Rock was able to keep me interested in the film as his character proved to be the only entertaining one and one that didn’t end up becoming an annoying cartoon character that seemed desperate for attention.
|"Did that fat kid say 'hi' to his mother for me?"|
Pain & Gain isn’t a great movie but it’s not terrible either. Surely, it’s the best Bay film I’ve ever seen (but that isn’t exactly saying much) but it had the potential to be a truly great and interesting film. However, the film goes back and forth from being a great work of entertainment to an embarrassing mess that, surprisingly, didn’t end up suddenly having racist robots and giant robo-testicles magically appear. This movie became the quintessential average, middle-of-the-road movie for me. Everything that works has exactly one thing that doesn’t riding parallel to it. Ultimately, the movie left me with the feeling of “meh” and I felt it was just okay.