Painfully Funny, Gainfully Twisted
Based on the real-life crime spree of Miami’s "Sun Gym Gang", Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Rebel Wilson star in this dark comedy of errors about bodybuilders who decide to get into the business of kidnapping and extortion. It's difficult to say who's more daft — the gang or the Miami Police — considering the gang almost got away with their crimes!
4.5 Stars: Perfect for fans of Quentin Tarantino
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a bodybuilder with a dream — he wants to get rich the easy way, by stealing someone else's fortune. Prompted by a shyster self-help guru who convinces Lugo to become a "doer" not a "don'ter", Lugo decides to kidnap and extort an annoying wealthy client from the Sun Gym, where he works as a personal trainer. Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) is the braggart rich guy with the giant house, yacht and off-shore bank accounts, all of which Lugo covets.
Lugo convinces his buddy Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to get on board with his twisted, get-rich-quick scheme. Doyle is newly clean and sober, hoping his recent connection with Jesus will keep him drug and alcohol-free. But when it comes to cocaine, access to Victor Kershaw's cash trumps Jesus and a coked-up Doyle makes some pretty bad decisions.
The Sun Gym Gang's first mistake? Kidnapping someone they know. Despite being blindfolded, Kershaw easily identifies Lugo by his vanilla-scented cologne and from then on, they are pretty much out of luck — or so you'd think. The dim-witted 'roid-ragers are so impotent, literally and figuratively, they manage to bungle Kershaw’s murder. And things begin to spiral out of control from there.
Pain and Gain doesn't glamorize the gruesomeness of the Sun Gym Gang's violence, instead it turns it into surreal fodder that is so strange, it transcends into comedy. In fact, some of the scenarios in the film are so bizarre, the filmmakers add text halfway through the movie to remind audiences that this is "still a true story."
The film is at its best when revealing the details of these men's lives, like when partner-in-crime Adrian Doorbal is at a strip club and admits he's drinking breast milk with added amino acids because it's the best way to deliver the supplements to his body. Where does he get the breast milk? Oh, he has a wet nurse he pays to pump for him — hers is apparently the cleanest milk in Miami.
Bottom line: If you like a good and twisted dark comedy, this one will have you laughing despite the gruesomeness and it is probably Dwayne Johnson's best career performance. Enjoy!
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures