Pain and Gain (2013) Michael Bay
Basing a movie on true events is tricky. Basing a movie on true crime events is trickier. You want to tell your story but you don’t want to glorify the criminals involved. So what do you do? You change some names, add some embellishments, and you put this nearly unbelievable story up on the screen. Turning it into a dark comedy on top of it is…an interesting challenge.
Pain and Gain is about a small band of hapless gym rats who hatch a scheme to kidnap and extort money from a local rich business owner in an attempt to claim what they believe is the American Dream. What follows is mayhem and foolishness in Michael Bay’s fashion.
Admittedly, I laughed at this film. A lot. Bay succeeded in showing some respect to the victims of this awful crime by making the criminals look like bumbling idiots, but that’s as far as I could tell any respect was paid. Elements of Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler character from Boogie Nights showed through. Dwayne Johnson acts outside of his usual oeuvre to play a born again Christian ex-con who’s easily led astray back into a life of crime, only to act with a childlike conscience and mentality with regards to the deed at hand which at times thwarts the “success” of the robbery.
Bizarre is one way I would choose to describe this film. Bay manages to take a story that’s almost too grotesque and unbelievable to be true into a dark farce of a film loosely based on true events. I’m reticent to say that I enjoyed it because I don’t want to add to a cinematic mockery of the survivors’ suffering, but I did laugh at the expense of the criminals and I’m certainly glad these idiots are behind bars.