Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson). Their kidnapping and extortion scheme goes terribly wrong since they have muscles for brains and they're left to haphazardly try to hold onto the elusive American dream.Written by
Let me start this out by saying I hate Michael Bay. I hate Michael Bay. OK, OK, he's not the worst director in Hollywood. He's got his s**t together, and people are willing to pay him to glue together the worst movie ideas and turn them into a semi-watchable blockbuster. However, Pain & Gain isn't one of these movies.
"Wait, how does that make it good?" You ask? Well, my position is that Bay actually cared about this movie. He pitched this movie for years, even when he was a more struggling director, and nobody would buy it. Eventually, this movie was made on a measly budget of $26 million. Not exactly peanuts, but nowhere near the budget Bay is used to. I believe this encouraged him to put some real thought into it.
First of all, this is a dark, dark comedy at its core. It's Fargo ramped up to eleven and edited into the pace of a 2-hour-long seat-edging action thriller. The movie manages to go from serious, to gory, to slapstick all in a matter of minutes, and somehow still manages to work. It'll be impossible to keep yourself from cracking out in laughter, even though all of the characters are completely unlikable and self-absorbed. The movie constantly mocks gym jocks, self-help optimism, and class privilege. The acting is superb. All of the cast was well chosen, from Dwayne to Shalhoub and especially Wahlberg. And that shocking fridge horror moment comes with the realization that it all actually happened. Yes, unlike Fargo, that disclaimer at the beginning of the movie is an honest one, and the actual events are even more outrageous than this movie itself.
Most of the criticism seems to come from this movie being made as humor deriving from a true event, but I don't think it could have been done better any differently. All of the changes made to the events were understandable in order to make it watchable as a movie; Adding extra humor in order to balance the absurdity, merging a few characters into one much larger one, or even actually *toning down* a few parts to make them more believable. There are so many memorable moments that are permanently affixed to my brain, unlike other Bay films which are utterly forgettable. That makes this a cult classic, and easily one of my favorite movies.
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