Film Review - The Hollywood Reporter

April 23, 2013 1:11 AM

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Dim-witted bottom-feeders on steroids and coke run amok seeking the American dream in Pain & Gain, a ham-fisted, thick-skulled comic caper about bodybuilders-turned-criminals which, like its three protagonists, fully lives down to its own potential. Intentionally made on the cheap (for $25 million) thanks to its stars taking back-end deals, this is director Michael Bay's idea of a low-budget indie-style film, even though the muscles and ammo on view here are only slightly less imposing than those of his Transformers films. Although ostensibly intending to send up characters and a milieu that are crass and vulgar, the film itself shares their affinities to such an extent that this distinction will be lost on audiences whose own lifestyles or aspirations lie in the same general direction. The result will be some muscular box office with the masses, perhaps especially from some overseas markets where the macho allure will combine with a perverse fascination with the depraved way of American life herein revealed.

“Unfortunately, this is a true story,” the narration brightly begins. Equally unfortunately, however, the story is told in a hammer-on-anvil manner that evinces no gift for social satire or sharp cultural insight. Such central topics as the sexually diminishing properties of muscle supplements, the ...

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