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"Pain & Gain" is like "Fargo," except that: 1) It's set in sunny Miami rather than snowy Minnesota. 2) It's based on a real murder case, so the humorous take on violence is harder to swallow. 3) It's directed by Michael Bay ("Bad Boys," "Transformers"). It's comedy as nuanced as a barbell to the head.
The story centers on Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), a success-driven bodybuilder who hatches a plan to kidnap a deli franchise mogul (Tony Shalhoub) and force him to sign his vast wealth over to him and his iron-pumping cronies, Christian convert Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and steroid-injecting Adrian (Anthony Mackie). And since these three have biceps for brains, the plot doesn't quite go according to plan.
Bay trots out his inner Tarantino, treating the nauseating violence as if it's just nutty hilarity, and drives home every "joke" with his trademark sledgehammer subtlety. (Oh, and boobies.)
Sometimes you only know it's a comedy because familiar comic actors Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Ken Jeong and Rebel Wilson pop up amid the mayhem.
'Pain & Gain'
Opens Friday, April 26, at theaters everywhere; rated R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use; 130 minutes.