Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Don't be a don'ter.

If the last couple of times I had seen you,  I punched you square in the nuts (or equivalent lady parts) and stole your money - you'd have every right to hate me. But what if I promised you, this time, this time it was going to be different. Instead of bastardizing history (the aforementioned nut-shot), both actual and that of a little boy's childhood, I was going to tell you a true story. A f--king crazy, true story. Would we then be cool?

Director Michael Bay and I aren't cool, but Pain & Gain is a roid-fueled step in the right direction. Thankfully 100% free of stupid f--king robots (though other reviews may suggest otherwise), this movie tells a story far more grounded in reality, even if it's ultimately hard to believe.

Before we begin, let's get a few things out of the way. Yes, it's full of all Bay's trademarks: over saturated colors, low angle shots, misguided patriotism, swooping cameras, epic run time and a script that can occasionally hurt your soul (to name a few). But it's also full of some of his other trademarks, too. The good ones. It's fast-paced, has some very cool action sequences, incredibly hot chicks (and dudes, to be fair) and style to spare. And while some of the 'good' stuff may actually be on your 'bad' list, I found this flick to remarkably entertaining.

The trailer does the job, but for the uninitiated, Pain & Gain tells the story of three body-builders, led by Danny Lugo (Wahlberg), who decide they want more out of life. Initially, they try to do things the right way, but as none of them are all that intelligent, it seems to them that kidnapping and extortion are their best chances at the American dream. As awful as the crimes are that they commit, they remain an undoubtedly likable trio.

Wahlberg's Lugo, the so-called brains of the operation, is an earnest guy who really tries to get ahead in the fitness industry. Despite his intellectual shortcomings, he actually is capable of a few good ideas. The execution of those ideas? Not so much. Dwayne Johnson plays Paul, the muscle of the crew, whose incredible physical presence and mean streak belie his devout religiousness and strangely gentle nature. At least initially, anyway. And the runt of the litter is Adrian, played by my main man Anthony Mackie, sort of the utility infielder of the bunch. He's the tag-along, seemingly involved just to hang out with the other two. Combined, these three create an impressively bumbling trio, arguably on par with Larry, Moe and Curly. Well, maybe if the Stooges were juicing, that is.

Even if the story which the film is based on weren't true, it would still be an entertaining ride, as far as I'm concerned. Watching these guys hatch, then botch, idea after idea was amusing, and at times borderline hysterical. In the aw-shucks hands of Wahlberg, Lugo is the right kind of ridiculous. As for the Rock? Well, he fully won me back after the awfulness that was the second G.I. Joe flick [review]. Throw in a flaccid Mackie, an extra slimy Antonio Scarpacci, an always solid Ed motherf--kin' Harris and I'm good. Real good. And I haven't even mentioned Girl With Amazing Ass yet, whoever the Hell she is. I mean, damn. Damn. Roll up all that acting goodness with one of the weirdest f--king stories ever, and for me, you've got a solid night at the movies.

You know what else is solid, or least getting there? The Yays and Boos. The three of us have been hitting the gym a lot lately, because we believe in fitness. Though I have to keep reminding them that the only time it's cool to bring a cell phone to the gym is never.

Swap the beer with a Dr. Pepper and I love everything in this frame.
  • What a kick ass beginning. I could probably watch anything in super slo-mo, but a desperate and gnarly Wahlberg? Yes, please.
  • So, I told you that Danny Lugo had some good ideas, right? His ideas to increase gym membership were brilliant. And hairy. My God, were they hairy.
  • You intellectual types will likely disagree, but I've always loved a character who refers to other movies all the time. It's stupid, sure, but it's also very endearing.
  • I kind of hate Ken Jeong's schtick (at this point, anyway), but his Tony Robbins-esque douchey motivational speaker character, Johnny Wu, was inspired absurdity. That's why you're working at Sears, bro.
  • It's an easy joke, but when characters sincerely motivate each other with lines such as You love those big bitches I then realize that I'be never really matured since high school.
  • Michael Bay loves him some slo-mo, no doubt. And while it can be overdone (like all his tricks), you have to love seeing a guy get tased in the head. In slow motion.
  • Man, Wahlberg's Scarface accent was pretty clutch. Almost cooler than his native Boston accent. Almost.
  • The scene where they back over Victor's head was great. If that was how it really went down, I'm pretty sure there are no words to describe the amount of luck, both good and bad, that occurred in that moment.
  • Ed Harris. Two things. One, we don't see enough of this guy. Somebody fix that. Now. And, two? Dude's a beast.
  • I think my favorite scene in the whole movie was Lugo's pep-talk to the neighborhood kids in the back yard. It's possible that I could watch that everyday for the rest of my life.
  • Fingers crossed that *69 makes a comeback. That used to be the shit. Though it actually might have ended my burgeoning prank phone call career.
  • This is a Yay only for those unlucky enough to live in or around the so-called taint of America, but props to York, Pa. for getting some screen time in a dang ol' Holluhwood moshun pitcher. 
  • We've gone too far in the positives without mentioning the T & A. Random strippers are a huge plus, but sweet Lord actress Bar Paly (aka Girl With Amazing Ass) is so frickin' hot in the trashiest way possible. Shame she'll end up in the Boos, however.
  • And finally, the real star of the show, the story. I know, I know, I've already mentioned it too many times. But honestly, if even half of this shit is real? I will never believe it.
Wahlberg's just read Alex Withrow's review.
  • Does Michael Bay have stock in clotheslines? Seriously, can this guy avoid having someone running through hanging laundry?
  • Happy to see Crazy Carl from Billy Madison show up, I am. Not as happy that he's basically a child predator. Though, he does get his.
  • In a movie filled with ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene, even I lost it at the penis clinic. Ernesto takes one in the neck.
  • Though it ended up beating me into submission, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the fact that every single character gets narration privileges.
  • In one scene, a prominently featured billboard advertising a website was featured. That's cool. Um, except for the fact that it's f--king 1994, guys. Same goes for what looked like an XBOX controller. Shitty.
  • Speaking of bowel movements, what the Hell was wrong with that fat dude in the hospital? I haven't seen shit so randomly featured since Spud crapped the bed in Trainspotting.
  • I'm giving a Boo to Gangsta's Paradise. Only because I don't think the song was out yet, and, because it reminds me of being in high school. Almost twenty years ago.
  • Sure, these guys were huge idiots (in every sense), but did one of them really give that to the dog? Had DNA not been invented yet?
  • Rebel Wilson. It's true.You make me laugh. But. Buuuttt, this filly might need to learn a second trick. (Says the guy who has none)
  • Fourteen minutes? That's all it took the jury? I imagine it took them twice as long to to decide on what to have for lunch.
  • And finally, in a movie that is too long for its own good, I'm going to suggest something that I never, ever thought possible. They should have cut out Girl With Amazing Ass.  [Deep breath] She, other than looking extraordinarily slutty, really had nothing to do with anything. Dropping her fine ass could have saved us at least ten, maybe even fifteen minutes.
So maybe Michael Bay (or anyone involved really) won't need a tux on Oscar night this year, but that doesn't mean the movie isn't fun. I have momentarily released the white-knuckled hatred I have for the cinematic Cleveland steamers that Bay and company have routinely left on my chest summer after summer. This doesn't mean I won't still deliver the ultimate dick-punch to anyone that likes the Transformers movies. It just means that for now, Bay isn't the worst person alive. In fact, Bay...is okay.

For now.


  1. Good review! Sounds like fun, but will wait for DVD. Marky Mark should bring back the Funky Bunch...or at least make another movie like Shooter or The Corruptor.

    1. Damn it. I wrote a post about Wahlberg, and failed to mention The Funky Bunch.


      The Corruptor! I saw that in the theater!

  2. Ed Harris is in that? Penis Clinic? What is going on?:P

    I must say the poster alone made me laugh a little, that flag...I should have known it was Bay's movie right there :)

    1. Seriously. It screams AMERICA, F--K YEAH! in true Bay fashion.

      While I think you will quite honestly hate this movie, for me, it was a good time. Ridiculous in all the right ways.

  3. Good review M. It's fun and entertaining, but still a bit weird in terms of it's tone and what exactly it's trying to say. Still, I had a relatively fun time.

    1. Looking back, I had a really good time. I still can't fathom the story. It's madness.

      I honestly don't think I could hate anything with the trio of Wahlberg, The Rock and Mackie. Impossible, really.

  4. Never thought I would say this, but I want to see this. haha

    ... and Dr. Pepper over beer? It's like we were separated at birth.

    1. We probably were. Though I'm probably Cliff Paul, to your Chris.

  5. I will never suffer through another Michael Bay film after sitting through the atrocity that was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. I would have walked out after about 15 minutes, but seriously, when you take your kid to the movies it's rude to just walk out and abandon him, plus Child Protective Services frowns on that sort of thing. I wish I could have expressed that in a way that was half as awesome as the first paragraph of this post. :-) I left my desk and walked across the house to quote you to my husband; he thought it was hilarious too.

    That said, this does sound like a somewhat interesting premise, especially since it's based on a true story. And this is a fabulous review. Seriously, I think it's one of your best and since I think you set the bar pretty dang high, that is lavish praise. :-)

    1. I took my film/time snob younger brother to Transformers 2 and he was furious on both fronts. I honestly don't know what I was thinking. It was a cinematic dump on the face. Who knows, maybe movie theaters are like those hospitals where it's totally okay to abandon your children?

      [Did you ever see that Dateline? Jeez...]

      Anyway, thanks for the praise for this one! Yesss! It's always great to hear someone respond to what I'm saying...as opposed to my day job, where it's blank stares and fart noises. Though I do enjoy a good fart noise.

      As for this flick? Take the kids. Probably would be a kick ass non-fiction lesson. And you could read the primary documents when you get home.

      I think I just wrote a lesson plan for class next week.

    2. "I think I just wrote a lesson plan for class next week" For my students or yours? :-)

      I'm the kind of homeschooling mom who considers a Quentin Tarantino movie prime curriculum fodder. Or even Game of Thrones, with all the naked boobs everywhere (seriously, I think of all kinds of lesson plan ideas watching GoT ... the fantasy genre, literary themes, connections to actual historical events ...) Needless to say, there is a very good reason they don't let me teach in an actual classroom. ;-)

    3. At this point in the year, not even sure that GoT could hold my kids' attention. Me on the otherhand? Rapt.

      And those plans? Those are for you. I'm um, notorious for not handing in my plans. Well, it's not like I'm on the computer a lot....

    4. You couldn't hold young adolescent boys' attention with naked breasts? Yes, it is almost the end of the school year, and we're all pretty brain dead, but ... wow. I just gained a whole new level of respect for the challenges faced by classroom teachers. The only teaching I do for pay is online, so I don't really have to hold the kids' attention, just get them to read my feedback on their writing. Although at times, even that can be a challenge. :)

  6. Ed Motherfucking Harris and Girl With The Amazing Ass? I'm sold. I was debating whether or not to check this one out. Might have to rent it. Or sneak in through the back door where no one can see my identity. Since this is the only Michael Bay I've actually been interested in, I may just have to give it a shot.

  7. Just do it! I'll send you the nine bucks if you don't find something that made it worth seeing.

    Well, hold on. I'll send you eight. Girl With The Amazing Ass is easily worth a dollar. Easily.