Whoa! Pain and Gain's a sinner and a winnah! Don't be put off by the poster and its violent macho image or its terrible title. This is gangsta that should impress Scorsese. And Tarantino. Yep, Michael Bay knows how to make crime funny. And violent. And bloody. The works. But mostly enjoyable. Former Bad Boys and Transformers director Bay has cast and produced Pain and Gain impeccably. The cinematography by Ben Seresin of that vice ridden town of Miami Beach makes it look like an ad for the fine upscale play land of the nouveau riche that it is.
And please tell me when does Pain and Gain's star Mark Wahlberg (Daniel Lugo) do a bad film? And while it may seem impossible, muscle-bound, tattoo ridden Duane Johnson (Paul Doyle) gets laughs though I felt he could have used tighter direction and editing. Meanwhile Antony Mackie (Adrian Doorbal) rounds out this threesome, a more passionate and less cerebral Ocean's Eleven with touches of the Marx Brothers. Mackie, a good comedienne, in this film is married to the adorable yet sassy beauty Rebel Wilson (Romana Eldridge). Did I forget to mention these specimens of male pulchritude portray body builders and own a gym?
But it is Wahlberg, the former Calvin Klein crotch clutching underwear model and recovered rapper, whose energy drives the film. This guy has said on TV that he gets down on his knees daily, does not go out at night and has transformed his life. Like the character he portrays, as a teen he has been in jail and now produces award-winning Boardwalk Empire as well as his next film, Broken City, and finds time to have four films coming out this year. But don't miss this one, cause it's dousy. A pistol. A slam-bam-no-thank-you-mam-kinda-action to make you squirm in your seat between laughs. A hot combo. Bay will keep you wondering why you're laughing at things and situations that should not be funny. But they are. Kudos to Bay
The plot revolves around Ken Jeong (Johnny Wu), whose acting is always over the top and could have been reined in by Bay, who plays a motivational speaker inspiring these hot bods to commit the crimes of kidnapping and extortion. Mayhem ensues. Ed Harris (Ed du Bois) plays the trailblazing detective whose wife Emily Rutherfurd (Sissy Du Bois) has a small part, but her laughs are gargantuan due to her fine talent. Not to be forgotten is the incomparable Tony Shaloub (Victor Kershaw), the Emmy award-winning actor, who plays the crotchety victim with idiosyncrasies not unlike his fine portrayal of Monk all those years. Even the token strippers Bar Paley and Mindy Robinson are not only VA-VA-VA-Voom beauties, but can handle comedy.
The look of this film is bold -- shout out primary colors with glorious Miami Beach blue skies on the horizon a result of the fine art direction by Sebastian Schroder of this handsome film. But it is the closing credits and accompanying music that cap off a totally enjoyable viewing like an exclamation point. Don't run out of the theatre and turn your evening into a near miss. This exciting movie is based on a true story from a magazine article by Pete Collins while the cartoon-like dialogue, hip in its Miami Beach trendy magnificence, was created by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Though Pain and Gain will leave you feeling a bit spent, you will have deposited your emotions in a worthwhile experience. I'm not a fan of gratuitous violence, but this film is not that. The laughter removes you from any serious intent and lifts this film into the category of excellence.