Pain & Gain

Pain and Gain

  • Though it strikes an odd tone for its content, Pain & Gain is surprisingly not awful.
  • Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) are deplorable human beings, which is one of the reasons Pain & Gain’s tone is off-putting. The things these characters do are not funny, especially as their crime spree continues, and it is often difficult watching Pain & Gain play for laughs, if only because so much of the humor comes from disgusting sight gags and slapstick physical comedy.
  • In other words, given these characters’ actions, and given that Pain & Gain is based on real events, it feels wrong that Director Michael Bay tries to evoke laughter from explosive bowel movements and torture.
  • As the movie continues, Bay judges his character’s stupidity, but he never slows down the proceedings, never gets remotely serious, no matter their depravity. Not when they try to kill the same man using three different methods, not when they return a chain saw used in their crimes to the store from which they purchased it, and certainly not when they commit identity theft. No. It’s all comedy and no emotion in this film.
  • Which is to say that Pain & Gain would have been better if it had paired some drama, or at least more dark humor, with its slapstick.
  • Similarly, Pain & Gain’s portrayal of women offends. In many ways, this movie is a farce, which means it needn’t have well developed characters (hence my decision not to critique the non-development of its men). Even still, Β I would prefer at least one woman not be a dim-witted sex fiend.
  • For all of that, the movie remains watchable. Bay uses freeze frame and title cards to remind us of important facts, including that this is based on true events, something that works well. He also cleverly has every important character speak in voice over at least once, a decision that helps propel the movie’s humor.
  • The actors capture stupidity well, especially Dwayne Johnson, playing a man so naive he thinks he does right even when he couldn’t be more wrong.
  • Mark Wahlberg plays false intelligence with skill. And he finds his character’s manipulativeness.
  • Moreover, there are enough action sequences to keep the viewer interested.
  • Pain & Gain, in other words, is often entertaining enough, like most Michael Bay movies.
  • But that is part of the problem. These depraved events need less slapstick and more seriousness.
  • Final Grade: D+

15 thoughts on “Pain & Gain

  1. It’s a pretty strange movie in the way its tone plays around with the ideas of these real-life deaths. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that Michael Bay, despite being quite talented, is a sick individual and will let you know it at any second. Good review.

  2. The wife and I started watching this one Friday night and found it too stupid to finish… sorry you sat through the whole thing…

  3. I found this movie to be entertaining, and I thought Bay’s style(or lack of) helped with the story. This felt like the west coast answer to “Fargo” in terms of stupid people committing crimes and trying thier best to not get caught, but failing miserably. Giving these characters any sort of emotional depth would have made me understand them, and I didn’t want to. These characters were morons, and I wanted to laugh at them. The facts that they are real people. Makes me want to laugh at them more. I do agree that Bay’s use of not having one woman who is not a sex freak or a comic relief is really bad. Good review

    • Thanks.

      I might agree with everything you say if the film wasn’t based on real life crimes. It’s playing real murders, attempted murders and kidnappings for slapstick laughs. That just feels wrong to me.

      Had it, like Fargo, been completely fictional, I might better appreciate Bay’s tone.

  4. Nice work James. Seems to be about as fair a review as one can give it. With my general despise of Michael Bay and these fine points you make here, I doubt ill ever get to this.

    • That is what it aims for, so I’m glad it works for you. My problem is I don’t think most of the humor is dark, really; it’s more Dumb and Dumber than Fargo.

      And, given the content, that seems an odd choice, to me anyway.

      • I took it as dark because it’s finding humour in murder, mostly. I still have to see Fargo, but I love the Coen’s. Something I find interesting about Dumb and Dumber: It was released on the same exact day I was born πŸ˜€

      • Definitely interesting on Dumb and Dumber. πŸ˜‰

        Certainly looks for humor in murder, and would doubtlessly like some of it to be dark. I just think more of it is slapstick and sight gag.

        And you should definitely see Fargo like now if you’re a fan of The Coens. Many, many people (myself included) think it their best work. πŸ˜‰

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