REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK
PLACE: Dendy, Cinema
PIC: Pain and Gain
PEEPS: A congregation of six.
A feature that is longer than usual equates to fewer ads: don’t copy movies, buy the DVD of Warm Bodies, eat and drink healthy things, wear lots of jewellery and join the Navy. Not all at the same time, necessarily. It also meant fewer previews: RED2 and the 2013 version of Anchorman. Both appear to have been successful the first time around but there is no law that says there must always be a sequel or a prequel.
There’s unlikely to be a sequel to Pain and Gain, in part because a number of characters are… ummm… dead, and a plausible plot would require a major leap from the “true story” shtick.
Or, just maybe, zombies.
The plot is said to be a true story, a fact which the viewer is reminded about on a few occasions. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a gym instructor who is empowered with the success message from Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong) and becomes unsatisfied with the limited version of the “American Dream” that he lives. He partners up with born-again Christian/cokefiend Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and mainstream-if-manic Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie). This intrepid trio have blurry vision and the collective intelligence of pondlife.
They kidnap the comfortably rich and ever-so-slightly dodgy Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and force him to sign over his assets to them. While their standard of living improves, the plan quickly goes awry, notwithstanding the blundering of the local Miami police. As with many dreamers and visionaries, our heroes eventually wake up, by which time they are in a layer of squelchy stuff so deep and so malodorous that their futures are somewhat confined.
There are things one could dislike deeply about this movie, principally the casual and humorous depiction of excruciating violence (at least some of which presumably happened, given that this is a true story) and the failure to push the socio-politico-cultural point about a society that limits options for many while asserting that those who cannot participate fail through their own actions. But there is enough to balance those problems. The three leads have obviously buffed to the max for their roles, and that is something that will please a segment of the audience.
The social point is identified, even if it is not pressed. There is a small Oz moment (even if it is Rebel Wilson*) and a well-balanced performance from Ed Harris as a private detective. There are some genuinely funny moments as the leads discover that their values are not especially well considered.
And, in the grey days of late Canberra winter, there’s Florida to look at. It’s not the worst movie this year, but it could have been better.
Three flat whites. Light soy. No sugar or sweetener.
* – playing a loudmouthed and unintelligent woman, so not a big stretch from her usual roles.