Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jofo @ The Movies: Pain And Gain

...if you expect anything,but a scathing review then look elsewhere

Like most critics with a functioning brain, I am not particularly fond of Michael Bay's work. I find him to be incredibly offensive with his often racist, homophobic, and jingoistic schtick, and his over-reliance on special effects just makes me cringe at the thought of the filmmakers that this third-rate hack is influencing that will one day work in this market. Despite overwhelmingly negative critical reaction, Bay often achieves financial success thanks to ...(being as polite as possible) teenagers and frat boys flocking to the theaters seeking to indulge in the testosterone filled crap that Bay produces. Pain and Gain however is something a bit different from Bay's normal that it only has one explosion, other than that its practically the same horrible crap that makes his work the frat-boy pandering, borderline unwatchable messes we know today.

It's like the Three Stooges...only not funny...and on steroids.
Plot Synopsis
Based on a true crime, Pain and Gain tells the story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), a personal trainer for the Sun Gym and professional meathead. Fed up with the poor life, he concocts a plan along with his fellow lifter/roid-monkey Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and recently released convict Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to rob one of Daniel's wealthy clients named Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). They succeed, but the trio must avoid being caught and maintain their newly acquired "American Dream" despite their own endless stupidity.

First off, I do have to praise the movie for not glorifying its protagonist's actions, it does indeed show just how moronic and monstrous these three really were, and it really makes the audience want them to get their comeuppance before the movie's end. That being said, the casting is rather good, but the acting isn't exactly a stretch for them (Gee, Mark Wahlberg plays a moronic, self-absorbed, angry white boy, and Dwayne Johnson plays a...big guy who hits people, where have I seen that before?).

Michael Bay attempts to do something with Pain and Gain that he hasn't done yet; satire, which Bay woefully mistakes for the entire movie being based around (racist, homophobic, and misogynistic) jokes instead of only having his crass, juvenile humor in select moments like in Transformers. Rather than keeping the satire restricted to the gang's stupidity in comparison to the rest of the world, practically all of humanity here is shown as stupid, incompetent  and/or despicable. For example, the Miami Police Department is shown to just fire indiscriminately into crowds trying to kill unarmed thieves with no intention of taking said thief in alive, and going along with Bay's usual offensive schtick, Tony Shalhoub's character is a greedy, snarky "dirty Jew" stereotype (complete with a star of David necklace), and Bar Paly plays a dumb blonde stripper who only exists to act as eye candy for the frat boys this movie is targeted towards. In fact, the only likable, and somewhat realistically written character is Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris) who is in the movie for a grand total of maybe 20 minutes.

This movie also occasionally breaks the fourth-wall with Pop-Up Video style text boxes that appear at various points in the movie, I found them to be incredibly distracting, and ultimately juvenile since they mostly just explain the joke currently being told or acted out, or remind audiences that the movie is indeed based on a true story.  Ultimately, this movie feels like its more in line with the Scary Movies or other horrible parodies in terms of humor than an actual stand-alone comedy/satire, which is made even more apparent by the sheer amount of over the top sex, boob, and drug related humor. But the worst part of this movie is that it drags on for a very long time, and with nothing happening that wasn't offensive or face-palm worthy, its a really miserable 2 hour long experience. It's hard to criticize the story though, since a good portion of the movie (surprisingly) isn't fiction.

Art Direction
Despite being a product of Bay's, Pain and Gain's budget is surprisingly low (20,000,000$) so Bay couldn't rely on special effects for this one (thus making the movie's flaws even more obvious than ever). Camera work very rarely rises above average, and very often dips into atrocious. Honestly, there isn't much to say about this movie artistically (hah!) other feels right at home in its time period (1995)...and nothing more.

Ultimately, what is the point of this movie? To finally tell this story about a horrific true crime, brought about by three mentally deficient meatheads to a wide audience? No, then it wouldn't have been a "comedy" if it was hoping to respectively portray the events that lead to the victims' deaths. To satirize gym-prowler culture? No, because the satire extends too far beyond our three morons into humanity itself. So, is it to show just how stupid humanity can be? If that's the case then there are many other better, less horrific, FREE methods of reminding us of humanity's declining reality television. Pass this movie up until the 1$ theater or redbox if you absolutely must see it, but for those on the fence, don't waste your money or time with this one.



  • "Good" casting
  • Fits into its setting's time period well
  • Acknowledges that its main characters are not meant to be sympathetic


  • Frequent unfunny, racist/misogynistic/homophobic humor.
  • Way too long.
  • Acting is mediocre at best.
  • Unsure of who or what it is satirizing, or how to write satire for that matter.
  • Horrific camera work

1 comment:

  1. I also think that despite some scenes of action that are somewhat entertaining, the movie drags on and on and on to it’s pace. Good review Josh.