Pain and Gain (2013), my favorite movie of 2013!
MY CALL: Pain & Gain is everything that I thought I wanted out of a bro-down action-comedy and then some. If you’re a bro, see this movie. I don’t think I’ll enjoy any movie more this year! IF YOU LIKE THIS THEN WATCH: Bad Boys (1995) and Bad Boys 2 (2003).
Pain & Gain is everything that I thought I wanted out of a bro-down action-comedy and then some. There’s muscles, lots and lots of muscles, weightlifting, knocking people the f@$# out, zany crime schemes, loads of hot girls in skimpy dresses and thong bikinis and sometimes nothing at all, dudes talking about getting ripped, humorous accidental murder, an idiot who thinks he’s a mastermind, some middle-of-the-road comedic torture scenes (but nothing hard to watch), adult sex toys and the unavoidable humor that comes with them, gun fights, idiotic disguises, chase scenes, The Rock hilariously getting cracked out on drugs, inappropriate scenes involving a priest, an AMAZING cameo by Ken Jeong, the traumatic loss of a toe, disposal of dead bodies, embracing the notion of the chubby-chaser, erectile dysfunction…and things constantly go wrong in the funniest of ways.
This all leads to the most ridiculous courtroom criminal trial scene and somehow this is based on a true story!!!!!
This movie enjoys the narration of the ever-personable Mark Wahlberg (Contraband, Ted) as Danny Lugo. Lugo is a personal trainer striving for physical self-improvement in the form of muscle mass–and is doing a pretty good job of it–but he wants more. He wants the riches and the women; he wants what “the other guy has.” In this case, the other guy is Lugo’s blow-hard arrogant client Victor (Tony Shaloub; Thirteen Ghosts, Galaxy Quest). During training sessions Victor narcissistically runs his mouth about everything he owns and how happy he is to have it, and this gets Lugo salivating. After Lugo attends an over-the-top self-help seminar from Ken Jeong (The Hangover 2), he decides that he is a “doer” not a “don’ter” and he decides to get off his ass and take what he deserves…Victor’s money!
Lugo recruits Adrian (Anthony Mackie; The Adjustment Bureau, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and the recently saved, sober and released from prison Paul (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; Fast Five, G. I. Joe: Retaliation). Together, these three bumbling fools engage in kidnapping and heists which they believe to be brilliant but lack a certain technical soundness. Much to my glee, they’re quite far from brilliant. But they achieve their goals in the most roundabout of ways and it is hilarious at all stages.
Wahlberg has played the fool before (e.g., Boogie Nights, The Other Guys, Ted) and he does it at least as well here. But the real shocker is Johnson, who plays his most over-the-top, weird, funny role ever. He preaches AA lines like gospel, seeks to save Victor while torturing him and gets re-hooked on drugs–which leads to some amazingly funny scenes of a tweaked out 6’4″ 260 pounder with crazy eyes and a Fear and Loathing smile. These guys must have had a blast on the set improvising these scenes because a lot of one-liners and exchanges were priceless.
Among their lies, they pose as famous filmmakers and CIA agents to win the heart of a stripper, who joins their CIA “team,” and make a mess of their attempts to be smooth movie criminals. Later, their involvement with the porn king of southern California gets predictably out of hand as well.
Some great supporting roles come from Ed Harris (Game Change, Man on a Ledge), who does a fine job as an ex-cop private investigator with a lot of local PD clout, and Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect), a physician’s assistant who catches Mackie’s eye.
I’m not saying this was necessarily a great movie to the masses. But for me, a Wahlberg/Johnson movie fan and action movie aficionado, this movie was perfect. I loved EVERY MINUTE of the often tasteless, shallow antics and also enjoyed Michael Bay’s obligatory explosions and chaotic gunfire (which was well-placed a few times in the movie).
If you’re a bro, see this movie.