Michael Bay is a named associated with incredibly stupid but exponentially more fun movies and just regular incredibly stupid movies. For the most part, I’ve found some small bit of enjoyment in all of his movies with the exception of Transformers 2, so when it was announced he was making a ‘smaller’ project with Mark Wahlberg and The Rock as bodybuilders turned criminals, I was on board. I’m not entirely sure how Michael Bay managed to, well, Michael Bayify a true story, but he did and the result is the funniest movie I’ve seen this year.
Pain & Gain focuses far more on the comedy side of the action/comedy and has far less action than the words Michael Bay would lead you to expect. I would fathom it has something to with that ‘based on a true story’ text that like to flash up on the screen to say that “yes, these morons really did this in the real world, even Michael Bay couldn’t write a story filled with this much stupidity.” Recounting the events of three body builders kidnapping a business mogul and forcing him to sign away his life’s accomplishments under duress sounds like a fever dream, not a news story turned feature film.
Perhaps that’s why Pain & Gain seemed to work so well. It’s larger than life story actually happened and help keep Michael Bay grounded after three films of robot toys from space banging into each other like someone gave a five year old 300 million dollars to turn his sandbox fantasies into some of the highest grossing movies ever. As someone who understands the concept of a bodybuilder’s mentality, but still finds their goals strange and redundant, I felt my viewpoint represented. These characters are people who have nothing, so they just focus on their bodies to fill the void. That’s not to say all bodybuilders are moronic muscle heads who have nothing, but that those people exist and think that kidnapping people and investment scams are foolproof plans.
I’ve watched Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson do many things, but I’ve never seen this level of humor from them. Mark Wahlberg playing a whiny, idiotic weightlifter who doesn’t understand the American dream is a role that strangely fits. The Rock utters one of my new favorite lines of any movie from that past few years and the fact that it was in a Michael Bay movie shocks me. Perhaps it has been too long since Bad Boys 2, but Pain & Gain make me want to take the Transformers franchise away from him so we get more movies like this.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Pain & Gain as much as I did. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it But there’s just something about it that kept me captivated and entertained for every minute. I may not be sure if Michael Bay knows he fills his films with so many cliches TV Tropes overloads when it’s time to identify them or he just doesn’t know how to do anything different. Everyone once in awhile, that’s exactly what we need though. Movies were meant to be escapism and somehow this true story is beautiful escapism.
In Theaters: April 26, 2013
Runtime: 120 min
Rating: R (for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use)
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
Genre: Action/Adventure, Adaptation, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.PainandGainMovie.com