Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Michael Rispoli, Keili Lefkovitz, Emily Rutherfurd, Larry Hankin, Tony Plana, Vivi Pineda
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, based on magazine articles by Pete Collins
Directed by: Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use
Language: English
Running Time: 130
Date: 26/04/2013

Pain & Gain (2013)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dead Weights

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Michael Bay, who is known for his loud, expensive action movies (like the Bad Boys and Transformers series), takes a step back with a relatively cheaper film, concentrating on fewer special effects and more characters. Unfortunately, this is like watching a chef doing the dishes; it's not his strong suit. Pain & Gain winds up being one of his stupider and more tasteless efforts, though a good deal more tasteless than stupid.

A personal trainer at a Florida gym circa 1995, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) decides to be a "doer" so that he can get all the things he thinks he deserves. His plan is to kidnap a wealthy delicatessen owner (Tony Shalhoub) and get him to sign over his fortune. He enlists the aid of two other weightlifters: ex-con and recovering cocaine addict Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), who suffers from impotence as a result of his steroid use, but has a predilection for large women. After an initial success, their plan goes desperately wrong, and all their brain-dead attempts to recover it result in disaster after disaster. It's based on a true story.

Movies about dumb criminals can be highly entertaining (Fargo, Jackie Brown, or Burn After Reading, for example), but Bay sends his story spinning wildly over the top. His characters are aggravatingly stupid, the mood is belligerent, and the pacing is erratic, but worst of all is the humor. Bay may be the least funny director alive, and he insists on using an endless array of cruel, stupid jokes, about fat people, drug addicts, women in general, and just about everyone else. Only Ed Harris, playing a private detective, provides any dignity.

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