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'Pain & Gain' good for killing time, brain cells

Film Critic

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013

Updated: Monday, April 29, 2013 15:04

I’ll start off my review of “Pain & Gain” by saying that I’m not exactly sure how in-depth I’m going to get here. Let’s just say that this movie isn’t really worth going too in-depth for.

When I see movies that I need to review for this paper, I always bring my little notebook to take notes, and one of the things I often write down (if I don’t like the movie) are lines and phrases that I find pretty... let’s just say, poorly written. That’s putting it nicely.

In the first minute of “Pain & Gain,” I was doing that, but I found out very soon that I couldn’t keep up. Every line said by every single character in this movie is just flat-out ridiculous, so I simply gave up with the note taking. I sat through the rest of the film more or less dumbfounded by what I was seeing.

Michael Bay’s latest movie is about three body-builders, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Andrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), who kidnap millionaire businessman Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and steal his money because they’re bored and poor.

The supporting cast includes Ed Harris, Ken Jeong and plenty of very good-looking women in small yet “exploitative” roles. It is a Michael Bay film, after all.

Beyond that, the plot really isn’t worth discussing. It can be summed up like this: Three idiots kidnap a rich guy and it goes horribly wrong.

I really wish there were a more intellectual and tasteful way to sum it up, but to say that Bay doesn’t approach this story (which is based on true events) in the most intellectual and tasteful way would be a bit of an understatement.

I have to admit, it’s hard for me to articulate exactly how stupid these characters are in a way that accurately depicts their stupidity. All I can say is these characters do not have a single brain cell in their noggins. Every single decision made and line of dialogue delivered is just stupid. There’s no other word for it.

But there are two ways you can approach a movie with this magnitude of stupidity: Watch it with your brain activated and take it seriously (which will lead to an extremely unpleasant experience) or just sit down and watch this monstrosity play out with your brain turned off.

For me, it ended up being the latter, but I don’t think I did so deliberately. The film made me completely turn off the critical thinking powers of my brain. In other words, it turned me into a stupid viewer. That’s the power of Michael Bay.

But to be honest, that’s fine. There are movies out there that aren’t meant to be taken seriously, though that is not to say that Bay doesn’t have anything to say with this approach. It is a comedy after all, and we are supposed to laugh at the stupidity of these characters, and on that level the movie works successfully for a while.

I would be a liar if I said that “Pain & Gain” didn’t keep me entertained for the first hour and a half or so. Does that make me a bad person? Yes, indeed it does, but that’s a story for another day. It does succeed in delivering extremely funny lines in incredibly poor taste.

Unfortunately though, Bay crosses the line in the final act of the movie. A minor character gets killed by several hundred pounds of weights crushing his skull, and after that, the movie became absolutely no fun to watch any more. The characters continued the same shtick, but that scene was so off-putting because it went too far, and as a result it completely took away what made the movie (somewhat) successful up to that point.

“Pain & Gain” is a monstrosity. It’s disgusting, it’s profane, it’s illogical, it’s offensive – everything about it is just awful. It more or less takes place in an entirely different world, a world where common sense and good taste is just not a thing any more.

Is this the most appropriate way to handle the true stories of several kidnappings and killings of Floridians by a few bodybuilder criminals back in 1999? No, no it is not. It’s quite inappropriate, actually (again, another understatement).

I can’t believe myself. I came so close to actually recommending a Michael Bay movie. I’m sure that probably completely invalidates me as a serious movie critic, but too bad.


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