Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Pain & Gain

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 47% (Critics) / 65% (Audience)
Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie and Tony Shalhoub
Studio: Paramount Studios

Synopsis: 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. (Source)

The Good:
As the dumbest, most bungling trio of criminals in movie history, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie were an absolute hoot to watch. Mackie was just a complete dim bulb chubby chaser, while Wahlberg tempered his meathead “criminal mastermind” with just the right tinge of envy fueled malice making personal trainer Daniel Lugo a truly unlikable individual but still totally captivating. Johnson did wonders with the role of Paul Doyle, the gentle giant ex-con, drug addict who found Jesus. I especially enjoyed his scenes where he fell off the wagon and went on an hellacious drug fueled bender.
The supporting cast was great too. Tony Shalhoub was a totally unsympathetic victim who you end up being perfectly cool with seeing get treated so horribly; Rebel Wilson was hilarious as Mackie’s bawdy wife; and Ed Harris was reliably cool as the crusty old P.I. who investigated the lunkhead’s crimes.

Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard
Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard

The Bad:
The movie tried to do a balancing act between serious drama and straight up comedy but it failed more than it succeeded. While the funny scenes were indeed funny they sometimes were a bit jarring because the transitions were so awkward from one tone to the next.

Someone is about to smell what Dwayne is cooking

The Ugly:
Michael Bay’s overly stylized direction was unecessary and a bit of overkill in my estimation. I lost count of the amount of slow motion shots, freeze frames and swooping pan up shots that this movie contained. A more straightforward directing style would have been preferable.

Final Verdict: An darkly funny (if distasteful) look at how greed and jealousy can lead relatively normal people down seriously dark roads. The performances are all excellent and the story is unbelievable despite being based on true events. The direction is a bit distracting and the tonal shifts are a bit jarring but overall PAIN & GAIN is a pretty enjoyable film.

Rating: B

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