Pain & Gain Review: Human Behavior At Its Worst
Pain and Gain can at best be described as a cautionary tale for the use of steroids, other drugs, and the unquenchable thirst for money. The problem is that there is very little evidence to suggest that this was the filmmakers’ intention.
Through the first 20 minutes of the movie, I was able to stomach the buffoonery of all the obnoxious characters. Actually, I even enjoyed this portion because I was under the impression that the filmmakers were intentionally mocking these muscle-headed psychopaths by portraying them as complete morons.
As I continued watching, it became increasingly clear that every character involved in the story, not just the muscle heads, was a complete moron. It was then that I suspected that the filmmakers were not so much intentionally mocking the triumvirate of body builders; rather they were feeding the kidnappers what were intended to be funny lines to make these people appear more likable.
This could have been done for two reasons:
1. The filmmakers were attempting to make light of a seriously dark situation so the story could be told without becoming completely off-putting.
2. The filmmakers actually enjoy these despicable sorts of characters and wanted to represent them as decent guys who just made a few mistakes.
I tend to lean toward the latter since the film makes virtually no effort to empathize with any of the victims. Kershaw (Tony Schaloub) was made out to be the least likable person in the entire movie. Given what the other geniuses were willing to do just to make a quick buck, including torturing him and beating him nearly to death, the filmmakers should have awarded him at least an ounce of sympathy. Nope. Sure, he may have been a douche, but he didn’t attempt to rob or kill anyone. He was a mean-spirited pre-epiphany Scrooge-type guy, not a violent felon. He did not deserve the abuse and the film’s tone should have made that clear.
No doubt he was a bad guy, but he should not have been the “bad guy” of the story. Yet somehow that was the film’s implication.
The one highlight of the movie is the work of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His winning performance as a reformed drug addict who finds Jesus, loses him, then finds him again, was nearly lost amidst the mountain of crap that makes up the bulk of the movie.
That pretty much sums up my feelings about Pain and Gain. It is well-suited for the type of person that enjoys tasteless jokes that lower the bar for the intelligence of all mankind and random scenes with fast cars and strippers. There is even a completely unnecessary diarrhea gag. If that’s your thing, go see this movie. Otherwise go read a book, and stay away from steroids.