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Pain & Gain
Release Date(s)2013 (August 27, 2013)
Based on a true story, Pain & Gain plays out sorta/kinda as a story the Coen Brothers might tell if they ate too much beef, pumped up a high dose shot of HGH and played video games all day long. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if it’s what you’re into, but it’s not a good thing either.
Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) believes in the American Dream, or at least in a very specific part of it – easy money; and lots of it. He betters himself because he’s a “doer.” He dislikes those who don’t try for better and he hates those who have what he doesn’t. Lugo is a meat head douche bag – a very dangerous combo. It’s 1994 and Lugo is a personal trainer in Miami FLA. He’s reads self-help books, attends motivational speeches and is fluent in power words - even if he doesn’t know exactly what they mean. As played by Wahlberg in full-on overearnest mode, Lugo is a cartoon character drawn in bright colors and thick broad lines. In his day-to-day workload of spotting folks as they pump iron at the gym, Danny meets Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) – both equally cartoonish in their portrayal. Adrian is a steroid abuser whose penis has stopped working and is addicted to BBWs and porn. Paul is a lunkheaded former cocaine addict and burglar who has just been released from prison and has found Jesus. The three of them team up to help Danny pull off a scheme so stupid it’s brilliant. One of Danny’s clients is a loud-mouthed asshat Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub in the second of two well acted roles in this film – I’ll get to the other in a second). He’s a Jew from Colombia who owns a mansion, speedboat and a local Schlotzsky’s sandwich shop. He’s rude, crude and he has everything Danny wants. And Danny plans to take it all away from him, simply because “f**k him.” After a few failed attempts to kidnap him go wrong, they finally pull it off and what happens next... well, that’s really what the movie is all about.
Pain & Gain is watchable, but it’s not good. It’s absolutely a Michael Bay film – his greasy thumbprints are all over this thing. Bright cinematography, worm’s eye view shots of blue sky and towering subjects, and of course hot chicks dancing in strip clubs. Hey, there’s even an explosion just so there could be an explosion in the film to satisfy the Bay hungry masses of Boom Junkies. What it doesn’t have is anyone remotely likeable – and that’s a big no-no in movies. If you don’t have anyone to identify with, well, you find yourself not giving half-a-shit about anything going on. It’s hard to give a shit about this film. Oh, and everyone looks like their acting in this thing. Lots of mugging and obvious pretending going on. The cast is rounded out by Ed Harris (who plays a former cop turner private detective who seems to have walked out of a Carl Hiaasen novel – in a good way – as the only other well-acted role in the film), Ken Jeong as a motivational speaker, Rebel Wilson the sultry BBW in Doorbal’s life, a somewhat unrecognizable Rob Corddry and Bar Paly as the dim-witted femme not-so-fatale.
On Blu-ray, Pain & Gain has quite the muscle mass. (Har-har. Sorry.) The 1080p transfer looks incredible. Colors are way solid and bright. Blacks and whites are nicely defined and skin tones are spot on. If Michael Bay’s name as a verb comes off as a negative in terms of story, it’s a positive when it comes to how a film should look – and this film looks Bayer than Bay in every possible way on Blu. The audio is also quite impressive. Presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless – it’s as big as the video. Bass is bold, spacial effects are immersive, soundtrack music is well-defined – there really isn’t a damn thing anyone can say bad about the video and audio.
However. Where the hell are the extras? There is not a single extra on this thing. I didn’t bother looking around to see if there were retailer incentives because I shouldn’t have to. Odds are Bay is busy with Transformers 4 and at his power-level he told P’mount execs to slow their roll and he’d get to it. We’re looking at a double-dip most likely. So in a year or two look for the Pain & Gain: To The Max Edition with commentary, making-of and a documentary about the real people behind the madness that is this film’s story. It’s a bit of a letdown, but whatever.
Pain & Gain is just “eh” as a film. It has its moments and looks like everyone had a ball making it. But it’s definitely a rental, and with its full-on lack of extras I would recommend it solely as that. Drop her into your Netflix queue and move on.
- Todd Doogan