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Mostly pain in 'Pain & Gain'

May. 03, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

I cannot believe that A-List director Michael Bay ("Transformers" movies, "Bad Boys" movies, "Pearl Harbor") made this unfocused mess of garbage. And I really cannot believe that he made it watchable.

"Pain & Gain" is an actual true story about kidnapping, torture and murder that happened about a decade ago in Miami, and although the caper was practically made for comedy viewing, it is still a very serious subject.

Star Mark Wahlberg's ("The Departed," "Shooter," "Boogie Nights") portrayal of the unintelligent body builder Daniel Lugo, is second only to his low-IQ Porn Star, Dirk Diggler, from "Boogie Night" in amusement value. But, while Diggler was a sympathetic character, Lugo is not.

Wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson ( "The Scorpion King," "Snitch," "Walking Tall") bulked up to almost Hulk-like (the "Incredible," not fellow wrestler/celebrity Hogan) proportions as Paul Doyle, an even dumber body builder who pretty much leads to the downfall of the "Gang that Couldn't Kidnap Straight".

Up and coming actor Anthony Mackie ( "We Are Marshall," "The Hurt Locker," "Real Steel") plays the third wheel, Adrian Doorbal, with almost an exact showing as the black sidebar character that Don Cheadle played in "Boogie Nights." He does, however play well off of his co-star Rebel Wilson, who plays his love interest.

Wilson ("Bridesmaids," "Pitch Perfect") is a definite scene stealer, here, as Robin Peck, and she should be about due for her own starring role in a comedy that exploits her talent.

Second-tier actors include Tony Shalhoub ("Wings," "Monk," "Men in Black") as kidnap victim Victor Kershaw, who would work out fine except that Shalhoub's iconic Adrian Monk role seeps through his performance about half of the time. Although I never heard him utter his trademark phrase, "Now, here's the thing...," I saw moments when he was undoubtedly stifling the impulse.

Serious actor Ed Harris ("Appaloosa," "Enemy at the Gates," "The Abyss") was trying awfully hard to play tongue-in-cheek comedy as Ed DuBois, but having a tough time of it, while Israeli beauty Bar Paly ( "The Starter Wife," "Hyenas") became eye candy Sorina Luminita. It's pretty bad when the "dumb blonde" character in a movie seems smarter than most of the other players.

This movie is more entertaining than it deserves to be, and I'll credit the director for that. But, the "dumb jock" script plays out way too long, and by the ending credits, you are left saying, "It's about time!"

The documentary about this case (and the series of articles that led to it) is far more entertaining that this movie, and the Abbott and Costello antics just do not play out well in this "Miami Vice" atmosphere.

If you are a big fan of Wahlberg or Johnson, you will like this movie, but if you came to see a good movie, you will not. But, since you have already paid the money to get in, just sit back and enjoy it for what it's worth. It's not really painful, but there is no gain, either.

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.

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