Many of you may have seen the dark, but comical previews for the movie, Pain & Gain, in theaters today. From the trailers with three overly buff men running around in neon green body suits, muscles galore and ninja costumes — I thought the movie looked hilarious. It was not until I started writing this blog that I discovered that this movie is based on a true story and has sparked quite a controversial response from victims and their families.
From the first trailer I saw, I knew that Pain & Gain would be a hilarious mix of comedy and action with a splash of eye candy! Who wouldn’t want to see an incredibly muscular Mark Walberg and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson? As I began to research movie times, I started to see links that mentioned the controversy surrounding this movie and the reasons why some people think that it should not have gone to the big screen.
After watching several Pain & Gain movie trailers, I thought it was a fictional story that portrays three aspiring bodybuilders — Daniel Lugo (Mark Walberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) — who all work out at Sun Gym. The ring leader of the group appears to be Daniel Lugo, who is tired of living the poor life and decides to rob Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub).
Victor Kershaw is a rich businessman who also works out at Sun Gym. Daniel recruits Adrian and Paul, who was recently released from prison,to rob Victor. Through a series of seemingly hilarious trials and errors the gang is able to successfully abduct and force Kershaw to sign over his finances. After a failed murder attempt by the Sun Gym Gang, Kershaw hires private investigators to retaliate against them.
Director Michael Bay (also the director of all the Transformer movies) depicts the trio as comical underdogs who are incredibly discombobulated and just trying to survive in this tough world. This portrayal is a bit misleading because in reality the 1999 Sun Gym gang brutally tortured and murdered innocent victims.
Mark Schiller, who is the real-life Victor Kershaw, spoke out against the movie saying, ‘”Obviously at the end they tried to kill me — and it wasn’t that funny when they tried to kill me,” he said. “They did run me over with a car twice after trying to blow me up in the car. I was in a coma and somehow I got out. … It wasn’t that funny because I had substantial injuries. … The way they tell it made it look like a comedy. You also gotta remember that not only I went through this, but certain people were killed, so making these guys look like nice guys is atrocious.”‘ [via Huffington Post Entertainment]
Although the actors tried to be as sensitive and sympathetic to the families of the victims as possible, I still do not agree with Bay’s decision to glorify these criminals. I also wonder if many movie-goers will even realize the gravity of the movie and the truth behind its faux-comedic plotlines. If I had not researched more about this movie, I doubt I would have ever known that the Sun Gym gang was not in fact a group of misfits with Robin Hood intentions, but instead essentially a group of thugs who terrorized innocent people and hurt families. All for what?
I understand that most movies that are based on a true life story can effect the people that had to experience it in real life, but it seems hurtful and wrong to make this gang of cons and bullies comical and endearing. If you are like me, you love to root for the underdogs, but it seems as though Michael Bay has flipped the script and it ends up being the trio that are the ones causing terror and harm not the victim, Mark Schiller.
Although IMBd gave it 7.1 out of ten and Rotten Tomatoes gave it 49% — the highest rating for any of Michael Bay’s films — I have doubts and I’m still unsure if I want to spend my money supporting this film.
Lovelies, what do you think about the movie and its controversy? Will you go see it?