Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pain & Gain (2013)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I had wanted to see this movie mostly because I live in Miami.  While Pain and Gain was being filmed, I passed by one of the filming locations.  I was curious about the movie, which I knew was supposed to be based on a true story.  The more I heard about the movie, the more I knew I’d be waiting for it on DVD.

The movie is based on a group of criminals called the Sun Gym Gang.  Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo.  Lugo idolizes self-made people like Scarface and the entire cast of the Godfather movies.  He wants what Victor Kershaw has.  (Kershaw is played by Tony Shaloub.)  Kershaw has a nice house, a Schlotzky’s franchise and tons of money.  Lugo recruits Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) to help him kidnap and extort Kershaw.

These are not the brightest bulbs in the box.  Look at who Lugo has as role models.  Still, he wants the good life that Kershaw has.  After a failed attempt to get Kershaw into a van, the trio succeeds and brings him to a warehouse.  They eventually get him to sign over everything he has.  The problem is that Kershaw identifies Lugo, so they have to kill him.   As you might expect, they fail at this repeatedly.  (Staging a car crash doesn’t work because Doorbal puts the seatbelt on Kershaw.)

Lugo is the only one that manages to spend his money somewhat wisely.  Doyle snorts all his money and Doorbal tries to fix his sexual dysfunction.  So, they’re off to rob another guy blind.  This time, it’s Frank Griga, who got rich off of phone sex operations.  They invite Mr. and Mrs. Griga to Doorbal’s house to negotiate.  Do I need to tell you how this goes?

Lugo, Doorbal and Doyle are all idiots.  I could see Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson not realizing how stupid their characters were until it was too late to back out.  It’s like they couldn’t take the characters seriously.  And yes, the characters do get what they deserve.  It’s just a question of when and how.

I commented to my mother that with Breaking Bad, we have someone that doesn’t understand the criminal operations, but knows enough to know when he’s gotten lucky.  He’s also a smart guy in general.  Here, we have three idiots that engage in a comedy of errors.  This is what you get if you cross Breaking Bad with Dumb and Dumber.  My parents and grandmother couldn’t even finish watching it, the plot was that bad.

It did drag on.  About halfway through the movie, it felt like it should be coming to an end.  I’ve heard it described as a comedy.  It’s based on a true story and some liberties were taken (supposedly) to make it more comedic, but I didn’t really see it.  Yes, some scenes were amusing.  You might look at the characters and wonder if they really could be that stupid.  (Living in Miami and having worked in retail, I can say that the movie isn’t far off the mark in that regard.)

The movie took place right after I graduated from high school.  I don’t remember much about the story, probably because it was covered in the Miami New Times.  (Remember:  This is in the days before the Internet was ubiquitous.)  At least I recognized most of the locations.  I was curious how much of the movie revolved around the location I saw on my way to work.  (It was the location used for the Sun Gym.  If you want to look on Google Maps, it’s on the southwest corner of NE 81st Street and Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.  (25.849144, -80.184896)

I think that the one redeeming quality of the movie is that I didn’t have to pay for it.  If you can get it free on demand or someone else is paying for it, go for it.  If not, don’t bother.  Yes, I had to waste two hours and nine minutes of my life, but at least I got a review out of it.  There are several scenes that are actually awkward to watch with others.  I am so glad I didn’t go see this in theaters.

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