Pain and Gain


A dangerous combination is an abundance of self-entitlement mixed vigorously with a paucity of intelligence. It’s a tried and true theme amongst comedians: the overly confident American. Childhood in America, for the most part, includes ceaseless support and adulation for the attempt, and only slightly more praise for the success. Every kid gets a trophy in little league and even the kids with failing grades will have something they’re “good” at on the note home to mom. So what happens when less-than-intelligent kids grow up thinking they are above the rest of the world? Pain and Gain happens.



Based surprisingly closely on a true story, Pain and Gain chronicles the criminal exploits of a trio of bodybuilders as they skip one too many steps on the way to the top. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) leads the group (also including Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) as they try to move from lowly personal trainers to upper class Adonis figures. The trio begins the crime spree by kidnapping one of Lugo’s particularly chatty clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub). When the money from this little charade runs out, things spiral out of hand quite quickly.

First things first, Pain and Gain is unlike any movie you have ever seen. It mixes a ridiculous plotline, comedy, drama, and action with an eccentric style. The movie seems to be in a vacuum of time. The pace is absolutely frenetic, but the film drags on 10-20 minutes too long. Each section of the story takes just a hair too long to be told and when there are four or five sections, it adds up.


If you’ve seen The Other Guys you are familiar with Wahlberg’s action-comedy—for clarification, Ted is his comedy-comedy. By grunting, yelling, and “GET SOME”-ing his lines into submission, Wahlberg really brings the beefcake. His portrayal of Lugo is so wide-eyed and naïve (bordering ignorant) you almost end up rooting for the moron to succeed. When he teams up with Mackie and Johnson—both hilarious—you end up getting sucked in even more.

Compounding the issue, Shaloub, in a far cry from Monk, is simply a terrible person. He’s rude, insensitive, arrogant, and generally unpleasant. It’s brilliant. Shaloub plays likable characters, mostly, so the personality transformation is pretty amazing. I doubted myself a few times thinking it was actually him.

pain and gain 2

As with any Michael Bay directed film, Pain and Gain does not lack scantily-clad women and camera shots beginning at mid-shin and moving outward while playing triumphantly epic music. Atypical to Bay, we get less than three explosions! The closest film I could think of in terms of style was Keira Knightley’s Domino. Pain is filled with cuts and shaky, amped up camera movements giving the sense of being juiced up. I understand it, but it ends up being even more bizarre than the story, which seems impossible upon reaching a grown man grilling a dead woman’s hands. Seriously.

Pain and Gain is worth a view simply because it is such a unique cinematic experience. There are plenty of laughs and it is entertaining. The length is really the major thing keeping me from outright recommending it since it actually affects the movie’s quality.

    • movie snob
    • May 14th, 2013

    I never thought anyone could convince me that I might enjoy this movie — it has bomb written all over it — nice job

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