Friday, December 27, 2013

Film Review: Pain and Gain

You may have noticed, I like violent action-comedies.  A big part of that is that I will probably never be a big muscular man who shoots bad guys with semi-automatics while cracking wise, and even though these action-comedies are only fictional portrayals of such men and violence, it’s good enough for me. 
Also, I think there’s a great deal of the contrarian in me, who was raised on art films and later on in college and grad school continued my art film education.  So now I’m sort of like “Fuck you mom, you can’t make me watch Jules and Jim or Billy Liar anymore!  I’m a plebeian now!” 
Anyhow, some action comedies are very bad, and some I quite like, including the one I watched last night, Pain and Gain, starring The Rock and Marky Mark, with a good supporting cast of Rebel Wilson,Tony Shaloub, Rob Cordry, and some other people I don’t care about.  This movie is based on a true story that took place in Dade County in the early 1990’s.  3 ambitious but undereducated and naïve bodybuilders bet tired of having the bodies of Gods but the lives of schleppy losers and decide to kidnap a rich man for weeks until he can be coersed into signing over all his property to them.  When this plan finally works, the rich man is penniless, holed up in a horrible hotel room paid for by the Private Eye (Ed Harris) who tries to prove the criminal deeds of the bodybuilders.  Meanwhile, the 3 bodybuilders and a stripper who believes they are CIA agents and she is a spy, finally have a piece of the American Pie.  They take over his life, and the rich man’s former acquaintances and associates seem to prefer Marky Mark as their new neighbor; he wants to mow a lawn he can call his own and contribute to the community – he feels he’s deserved such pleasantries and such a chance to be house-proud his whole life.  This movie’s motif is a series of voice-overs from each of the main characters, and Marky Mark’s monologues were written with the most care, to show a dumb lovable lug/sociopath who believes in “fitness and America.”  Things turn bad for these 3 bodybuilders when they bite off more than they can chew and mess up a second crime they attempt to pull off once they’ve run through the funds they got during their first caper.  The characters Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie) and Daniel Lugo (Marky Mark) are sentenced to death, while Paul Doyle (The Rock) gets only 15 years, a stretch of time he is pleased by, because while back in society, he missed the easiness of being a sober Christian; he liked to be back in what to him was the peaceful enforced goodness of prison, where God and the Godly gesture of sobriety are a comfort and he gets to be in the prison choir. 

Does the synopsis sound horrible?  Perhaps.  This is a charming movie, though.  The naivete of the main characters is heartbreaking, and the point that the American Dream fucks over the working class is, while sometimes overtly and tiresomely repeated, still a valid point.  These poor men didn’t understand why they didn’t deserve to be rich, when the rich people that they served at the gym were such unremarkable, unappreciative pricks.  The comedic aspect of this film is funny and the violent parts are just gruesome enough to make one go “Oh my god, holy shit” instead of so gruesome it made me question the value of humanity.  

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