Pain & Gain (2013)
Their American dream is bigger than yours
So, this is a true story. That won't fully sink in until after you watch this movie I can almost guarantee. You'll laugh, you'll scratch your head, and you might even feel like a worse person for laughing at some of the parts you will probably laugh at. I know which it was for me, but the question here is whether or not this movie is a doer, or a don't-er.
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a bodybuilder and personal trainer. He wants to get you pumped, but he also really wants to someday own a lawn where he can just sit on a lawn mower all day and tidy that grass up. The American dream really, except there is no way he's going to achieve that by being a trainer - where he's constantly struggling to pay bills on time, let alone buy a lawnmower and a big yard. After an inspirational jaunt to one of those "Better-yourself by getting a plan" speech men, Lugo comes up with a nice little three step plan to get his piece of the dream in a big way. Step one: find a rich guy. Enter his rather jerk-bag client Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), whose loaded with cash, fancy rides, and all that a budding American would want. For his next step though, he's going to need to find a couple more doers to get things done.
Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) is a guy who works out with Lugo, and he really likes his steroids. Unfortunately for him, this leads to a bit of an unexpected side effect requiring quite a few pricey procedures to fix. Since Adrian isn't making a ton of money at his job, he warms up to the idea Lugo pitches about getting rich quick. Now at a team of two and looking for one more, it appears as if God works in mysterious ways when ex-convict christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) shows up to the gym looking for work. Doyle holds out longer than the others to the plan, as he would really enjoy not going back to jail and is a bit of a changed man, until upon one day of doing yard work for the church he is staying at (since he has no home and precious little money) he snaps and almost kills the pastor after (assumingly) some rather homoerotic implications are made. Now in need of money and a place, he agrees to join Lugo's insane plan on the premise that nobody gets hurt.
If they worked out their brains as much as their muscles, it's indeed possible that nobody would have gotten physically hurt. After a few botched kidnappings of Kershaw, they finally succeed and begin a 10 day torture regiment to convince him to sign over all of his money and belongings to them. Pretty near every step of the way is fraught with mistakes and issues - such as needing a notary, being recognized by the smell of their cologne, even down to trying to dispose of Kershaw after things have been signed - but somehow these bumbling fools manage to successfully accomplish their goal. It doesn't end there though, as Kershaw manages to survive their idiotic attempt at killing him, escape from them, and convince a private eye to investigate the case. He (the private eye) finds enough evidence that he's convinced Kershaw's absurd story is true, and after a series of even more mess ups when they decide to do another job gets the normal police to finally move on the ridiculous story of these bumbling muscle-heads that have somehow managed to not get themselves busted yet.
The story is presented in a very amusing way, and how much of it might be a little "enhanced" compared to the real story is constantly being questioned. The tale just seems to darn wacky to be a real happening, and yet assuredly there is a basis for this story, with only the names of the non-three leads being changed for "protection of the living." This proves an interesting conflict of morals when you start laughing at a bad situation because of how poorly the three lunk-heads handle it, and you realize that you are actually laughing over events that led and resulted in a kidnapping, killings, and overall illegal things. At the same time, you could analyze the crap out of the story for what the American dream is, as well as how far a person is willing to go to try and achieve it. Don't think it's going to be a cerebral trip though - that's really the only amount of thinking you'll do besides "there are really people that stupid out there?"
We are set in a modern time here, so outfits aren't going to be anything but fitting (unless you include the ninja and alien costumes used during the kidnapping). The actors all do a fine job of being believable, even though most of the story itself seems so unbelievable. A strange thing also occurs here where different parts of the movie are narrated by the thoughts of the different characters (jumping from the main characters to the private eye, Kershaw, or even at one point a stripper). It's interesting, although can be a bit confusing if you aren't good at telling their internal thought voices apart. Music serves a relatively background roll for the majority of the movie, as it's not nearly as important as the thought-narratives or dialogue going on on-screen. There are some memorable moments in the movie - including lines - although quite a few can be rather crude in nature - such as a line Lugo delivers to a kid who's eyeballing him at one point.
The movie is shot well, even if there are some bits in there that seem like it isn't necessary, although fitting of the movie in general. Certainly not a movie for little kids - between violence, language, and some topless strippers, the younger breed should probably wait until they grow up a bit for it. The strangest part about the movie - outside the parts that make it so hard to believe is a true story - is that at one point you actually find yourself rooting for the "bad guys" trying to steal all this money and the likes from Kershaw. The character of Kershaw is just such a jerk that you are drawn towards the idea that he deserves what's happening to him as though it's some form of karma coming to bite him in the butt. Karma, however, isn't just one sided and we end up seeing it turn on the boys by the end of the movie.
So this one wasn't a pain to watch, but do I really feel like I gained anything from it? Well, I certainly learned that our world is a little bit crazier than I originally thought - and that sure says something right there. It was an alright movie - nothing mind blowing, but still pretty entertaining. Most of the entertainment comes from how incompetent the muscle-bound gang is, and you can sort of attach yourself to their cause a bit as it is in fact the American dream, and who wouldn't want to get rich quick? At the same time, it's a bit confusing that the bad guys are so much more likeable than the good guys in this one, and it's in by no means an appropriate movie for a younger audience unless you are okay with them seeing all manner of sex toys, violence, stripper boobs, and hearing some language that most wouldn't find suitable for their kids. The acting is pretty top-notch in it however, and it is a true story so you can learn a bit about some of the weird happenings in this world, but really, the choice of watching this one is up to you. I've seen it once, I enjoyed it, but it's not something I expect to come back to either.