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FILM FANS: 'Pain & Gain' is crude, violent and awesome

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "Pain & Gain." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 stars

Despite the naysayers, this movie delivers much more than you might expect. With an excellent cast and a pace that moves on par, this movie provides an entertainment value. Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel, the leader of an incompetent muscle builder crew in Miami. Based on a true story, Daniel hatches a plan to rob a rich patron in the gym where he works. Seems the rich guy is a self-made man who mistakenly talks about himself and his successes incessantly. Daniel recruits two other strong guys who reluctantly go along with the ill-fated scheme.

Particularly effective is Dwayne Johnson in his role of playing Paul, who is a simpleton, a born-again believer after serving a stint in prison. He is sympathetic toward the victim and ultimately costs the band of thugs more than they could imagine.

Then the strings begin to unravel on their unbridled party. The key to this movie is the excellent cast, especially Wahlberg, and the director manages the film very well. This will not register at the award banquets, but to say the very least, it is not a bad film.

-- Rick Wright, Auburn

3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

"Pain & Gain" is an intriguing story of how easily people are influenced and how quickly greed can spiral out of control to devastating results. This movie is based on real events that occurred in a span of just nine months. It tells the story of three bodybuilders whose ill-conceived plan to steal the cash, home and business of one wealthy man resulted in tragedy for not only them but several others. There is drug use, a brief scene of strip club nudity, sex toys on display and plenty of violence, some of it cringe-worthy.

The diverse group of actors blends seamlessly and are all effective in their roles. Tony Shaloub, however, stands out and steals every scene he is in, definitely leaving "Monk" at the curb. Also notable is Rob Corddry who does a good job in a very uncomedic role. Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie are well cast and convincing in their roles.

This is the best acting I have seen from Dwayne Johnson although with those puppy dog eyes, and despite his muscular physique, it is tough to be convinced of him as a bad boy in the latter part of the movie.

The story is very well told, has a great flow and uses slow motion sequences effectively so that they are never over done. It has drama, comedy, action and violence somehow rolled into one. It held my attention for the entire two hours to the point that I forgot about the snack I had put on the seat beside me.

The tale ends with an update on the lives of the people on whom this story is based. I would see this again.

-- Francine Benoit, Lawrenceville

3 out of 4 stars

Bizarre. That is the only word that adequately describes this twisted comedy based on a true story. If it were not so sick, the story itself would not be worth watching all the way through. The movie was hilarious in places and dull in others. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) are bodybuilders in Miami who are looking for that one score that will make them rich for the rest of their lives.

Daniel is the ringleader who has learned all he knows about strategy from television. Adrian is his friend. Paul is an ex-con just out of prison whose new-found faith in Jesus makes his part in this new crime spree difficult for him. The narrator changes throughout the movie to allow the audience to understand the thoughts and motivations of the main characters. This technique is used in an artful way and makes it easier to like the characters despite their evil actions. The comedy is often juvenile, but it is funny. There is surprisingly little blood and violence. I recommend seeing this film, but only if you like a movie with vulgar language, sex toys and scantily clad people.

— Deborah Hurd, Bethlehem