Friday, April 26, 2013

Pain & Gain Movie Review

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Pain & Gain: This is So Good!

‘Truth is stranger than fiction.‘ Especially in Miami. Michael Bay’s hilarious Pain & Gain recounts the real-life story of the Sun Gym Gang, substituting larger-than-life stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson for the criminal counterparts they portray on screen. Irreverent to a fault, Bay and co. push way past conventional limits... resulting in a riotous, often violent 2+ hours of fun in the sun.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: From acclaimed director Michael Bay comes "Pain and Gain," a new action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Based on the unbelievable true story of a group of personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong.

What’s Best: Bay’s trademark frantic pacing pays dividends here, especially with the energetic trio of Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie at his disposal. You could look all over the world, and not find three better actors to pull this off. All three play dumb with unrivaled innocence and success. Making Johnson’s character born again was a stroke of genius... especially given the laundry list of evils he must perform. Wahlberg’s leadership headlines his best performance ever; and Mackie’s first real turn as a comedian shows immeasurable promise. His insecurities and the way he handles them are a joy to watch (especially his ongoing romance with scene stealer Rebel Wilson.) Then there’s Tony Shalhoub as Victor, a millionaire Ed Harris refers to as ‘a very difficult victim.’ Monk is devilishly delightful as a kidnapped businessman who’s almost impossible to crack (yet alone kill.) In fact, he gets better as the movie goes on... PLUS he proudly owns a Schlotzsky’s Deli franchise (inside joke to anyone who knows me.)

What’s Not: Pain & Gain ain’t for the faint of heart... This is one naughty movie. It’s also nowhere close to the real life horror it’s based upon: There was nothing charming or endearing about the real Sun Gym Gang. Part of me finds it irresponsible to portray them as such in the movie... Unfortunately, the majority of me couldn’t stop laughing long enough to notice.

Best Line: From it’s opening salvo, ‘My name is Daniel Lugo and I believe in fitness,’ Pain & Gain gets high marks for “my kind of writing.” Don’t look for Shakespeare-esque prose... Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely produce lines that you’d expect to hear from guys who lift weights for a living (no offense to all those guys at my gym who could bench press me with one arm.) When a doctor asks Wahlberg’s Daniel, ‘Why are you dressed for surgery in our hospital?’ Daniel calmly replies, ‘I like to be prepared for anything.’ Coupled with the visual of Marky Mark in medical scrubs... it’s pure gold. P.S. Daniel’s ‘What the fuck are notaries?’ had me doubled over in laughter. P.S.S. Ditto for Victor’s ‘You migrant workers suck.’

Overall: Pain & Gain skews towards the adolescent side of its audience... a side I embrace with unabashed pride. I laughed out loud for over half the movie: There are literally dozens of funny scenes (some cruder than others) and I enjoyed each and every one of them. Sure, it’s silly (you could even argue dumb) but what’s the harm in having a good time (even if it’s at the expense of the truth?) My advice? You simply have to suspend belief, and forget it’s based on a true story. Otherwise, you won’t be able to relish the sight of the Rock grilling fingerprints off a pair of human hands (you have to see it) or countless other “off-limit” gags and jokes. The payoff may make you feel guilty, but it’s definitely worth it.

Grade: A-