Pain & Gain

Directed By: Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Nicole Lee, Yolanthe Sneijder-Cabau, and Bar Paly

We've been seeing quite a bit of The Rock lately.  Unfortunately, he's had more misses than hits.  He starred in the less than memorable Snitch back in February.  He was then the lead in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which was just a decent action flick by any standard.  From what I've heard, he even managed to hold the WWE Championship and compete at Wrestlemania several weeks ago, which resulted in a hernia injury and surgery earlier this week.  There's no doubt that the most electrifying man in sports entertainment has been the busiest man in Hollywood this first half of the year, but he hasn't been busy putting out good movies.  This week, the People's Champ is joining Mark Wahlberg in Michael Bay's latest film Pain & Gain, another big miss.  All I can say is thank goodness he's reprising his role as Hobbs in Fast & Furious 6 in a few weeks.   

Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) is not living the American dream.  He may be big and fit, but he would rather be respected and rich.  Unfortunately, his skill set does not lend itself to amassing wealth.  He was recently hired as a trainer at Sun Gym by owner John Mese (Rob Corddry), but this job obviously doesn't pay too well.  After hearing about Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong) and his philosophy of doers and don'ters, Danny decides to do something to change his state in life.  He decides he's going to take the American dream for himself by stealing it from somebody else.  To do so, he's going to need some help.  He enlists his workout partner Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict Paul Doyle (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).  Together, they become the Sun Gym Gang

His mark is Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a wealthy Colombian in Miami who also happens to be one of his clients at Sun Gym.  His plan is simple, to kidnap Kershaw and force him to sign over all his assets.  His execution, however, is flawed.  Finding the right time to kidnap Kershaw seems to present some difficulty to Danny and his associates.  Even when they do eventually nab Kershaw and get him to provide his John Hancock on documents to transfer the assets, they don't have a notary, and the signed papers are worthless without one.  All in all, this doesn't bode well for the Sun Gym Gang.  Things can only get dirtier and bloodier from here.

If you're going to turn the kidnap, torture, and murder of innocent victims into an action comedy, you damn well better get it right.  Who am I kidding though?  We're in the hands of Michael Bay, which means nothing is right.  The film is thinly scripted.  The humor is nonexistent.  The silly antics and unnecessary eye candy are undeniably juvenile.  Even with an extremely talented cast at his fingertips, Bay manages to screw things up.  Pain & Gain is ultimately a sandwich without meat because Bay's sleek, glossy production offers no substance whatsoever.

Pain & Gain is undoubtedly Michael Bay's most controversial film to date.  He's framing real-life murderers as victims of capitalism chasing an American dream they will never earn no matter how hard they work.  There's something fundamentally provocative about this.  Hell, I'll even call it daring.  This could have been a potent retelling of heinous crimes from the past that echoed the harsh social truths of today.  However, Bay doesn't spend much time building on this.  Crafting an interesting tale that delves into these themes in a fun way is the least of his priorities.  Instead, he crafts this nice-looking production full of hot cars and gorgeous women.  There's hardly any room for meaningful storytelling or the development of a theme.

Calling Pain & Gain oversexed is an understatement.  In an incessant barrage of stale sex jokes, Michael Bay throws hot scantily clad blondes, lots of the kinkiest sex toys, and even a porn king at us during the course of his movie.  It all really seems a bit juvenile.  We don't need idiotic bimbos or women built by plastic surgeons to have a good time in this action comedy.  Twenty thousand sex jokes aren't funny.  We need some genuine humor based on three dumb criminals trying to steal the American dream.  This humor is exactly what Bay fails to deliver.  He instead delivers a sad comedy with a wafer-thin plot and overdone sex jokes.

With such a wealth of talent in the film, I'm thoroughly disappointed in each and every cast member in this movie.  Fresh from Broken City, Mark Wahlberg is silly and spontaneous, but he's not remotely funny or entertaining.  He plays on some of his performances in past films like Ted and The Other Guys.  It just doesn't work here.  For his part, The Rock shows us a little humor, but he doesn't bring that much to the table.  The fact that his character Paul Doyle is on Team Jesus is leveraged entirely too much for cheap attempts at humor. Anthony Mackie is an unfortunate third wheel as Adrian Doorbal.  He's just the guy whining about erectile dysfunction the entire movie.  As nurse Ramona Eldridge, Bridesmaids alumna Rebel Wilson offers her same brand of humor.  She needs a new act.  The same can be said for Rob Corddry in his performance as Sun Gym owner John Mese.

If there are any enjoyable moments in Pain & Gain, they come from The Rock. He's the only one offering any glimpses of comedy throughout the film.  Beyond these brief moments of amusement, Pain & Gain is an embarrassingly bad testament to the fact that audiences still flock to Michael Bay's movies.  It may get butts in seats at movie theaters around the country.  It may make some cheddar at the box office.  It may even get a glowing review or two.  None of this matters because Pain & Gain sucks.  That’s exactly what will be remembered about this movie.  This shallow action comedy that makes light of true abominable crimes gets a 0.09% rating.  Have some chocolate liqueur with this one.