Three Stooges of Extortion: Pain & Gain (2013)

Barrel chest, t-shirt stretching arms, broad shoulders, wide v-shaped back, the epitome of man. As a young 98 pound weakling, and later as a 275 pound bag of fat, I’ve always wanted the manly man body. Thankfully, when I was younger, and actually able to realize this horrible dream, I tried and failed. It was too much work.

I write “horrible dream” not because there is anything inherently bad with a sculpted body, but because my dumb ass would have been one of those top-heavy idiots. I would have been some freakish cartoon caricature of what NOT to do when working out: Hulk with stickman legs.

Knowing you limits can be a good thing, even if you don’t understand the entirety of why. Enter Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), three guys who embody the old Foghorn Leghorn saying, “That boy is about as sharp as a cue ball.” These guys are the Three Stooges of extortion, and that’s in their best and brightest moments. Seriously, Daniel Lugo’s grand plan is to kidnap Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a rich and insufferable prick, and have him sign over his stuff. Paul Doyle and Adrian Doorbal are the simpletons following the fool.

Meatheads + illegal get rich quick scheme = hilarity.

There’s not much to it. It’s a caper film about three idiots. It just so happens to be a true story, but that doesn’t make it any more entertaining. It just makes me sad for the human race. What makes it entertaining are the characters. My favorite character was Paul Doyle. The Rock hulked up to something like 330 pounds of pure meat for this role, which makes the sensitive, born-again Christian Paul Doyle riotously funny. Wahlberg and Mackie are great, but you’ll want to see the movie because of Johnson. There’s something really satisfying about seeing him outside of the action movie bad-ass role, like Elliot Wilhelm in Be Cool

Speaking of the surprising outcomes and limitations, probably the most gratifying aspect of Pain & Gain was to see that Michael Bay can, in fact, make a decent movie. Take away the hundreds of millions of dollars, CGI and have him focus on character, and his movies are a’ight.

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