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Pain & Gain Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Actually, just pain. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 0

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Michael Bay's absurdist comedy is all pain, no gain and an utter monstrosity. It may be the most unpleasant movie I've ever seen, and I'm not forgetting "Freaks," which Pain & Gain resembles, come to think of it.

    Read Full Review

  • 20

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    The story is told in a hammer-on-anvil manner that evinces no gift for social satire or sharp cultural insight.

    Read Full Review

  • 40

    out of 100

    Village Voice Ciara LaVelle

    When the story runs off the rails and crashes headfirst into a too-perfect ending, it's because Bay was led astray by the same things that got the Sun Gym Gang into this mess in the first place: superficiality, ambition, and the belief that reality just isn't good enough.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A badly constructed, blood-spattered caper that comes unglued early on.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Variety Scott Foundas

    Bay can be a master of exuberant chaos, but here the violence mostly lands with a sickening thud, which is fitting, one supposes, but also ultimately numbing.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    With Pain & Gain, his surprising true-crime comedy, Bay has finally decided to lighten up a bit.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Even though Pain & Gain does indeed mine laughs from some very violent acts, there is nothing in this movie that glamorizes those three meatheads. Kudos to Bay and his screenwriters for making sure we’re laughing at them, not with them.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Not for kids

Violent, stupid, offensive, unfunny "true crime" story.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pain & Gain is a vulgar, violent action comedy from Transformers director Michael Bay. The movie -- which was inspired by a real-life kidnapping, extortion, and murder -- is filled with shooting, chasing, fighting, and blood, as well as more gruesome, torturous images like barbecuing severed hands to remove the fingerprints. Sexuality is also prevalent in the movie; there's some female toplessness and comical sex, and women are treated as dumb sex objects. One character is a drug addict who tries to recover but fails; he's shown snorting cocaine, with results that are played for humor. Language is extremely strong and frequent, with constant use of "f--k," "s--t," and more. The fact that these greedy characters and their illegal, brutal plans are treated with humor makes this movie very iffy for just about any audience.

  • Families can talk about Pain & Gain's violence. How is it depicted? Is it gross? Funny? Does it seem over-the-top or inappropriate?
  • How does the movie portray women? Are they judged by their body type? Are there any positive female role models here? Stereotypes?
  • How does the movie view male body image? Is it positive or negative?
  • Are there any examples of bullying in the movie? Where and how?
  • What's funny about dumb criminals?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The entire movie is about greedy characters who are trying to get ahead in the world by doing illegal things. Though there are consequences for their actions, the movie tries to make these activities look like fun (or at least funny). The movie also makes fun of large women, treats most other women as sex objects, and includes other stereotypes.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The main character decides to go after what he thinks he deserves in life. But that decision involves all kinds of illegal and shady activities. He bullies others into joining him, and he even bullies several kids while playing basketball. Another character starts out reformed and religious but winds up a murderer and a junkie. Even the movie's victims, the supposedly law-abiding citizens, are awful, hateful people.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Characters are kidnapped and beaten up. There are several attempted (but failed) murders. A character is blown up in a car and then run over (he survives). Other characters are tortured (pliers to the nose, burning, more), killed (either by accident or on purpose), and have their bodies dismembered. Their hands are cut off and barbecued (!) to remove the fingerprints. There are several fight scenes with punching and blood. One character is slammed with a barbell weight, and another is squashed under a weight (lots of blood is shown). There's a chase and a shootout, and a character loses a toe. Cruelty/yelling between characters.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Several topless women are seen in a club scene. The main character has (comical) sex with a woman against the back of a car (no nudity shown). A character's stripper girlfriend is portrayed as kinky. A warehouse filled with sex toys/objects is shown. A character tries to masturbate (under his clothes) to a porn tape (nothing graphic shown). Women are generally treated as dumb sex objects, shown in tight exercise outfits. Lots of skimpy outfits (both male and female) in gym scenes. A character struggles with impotence as a result of the steroids he takes. A T-shirt with the Penthouse magazine logo is shown.

  • language false5

    Language: Language is extremely strong and nearly constant. Words include "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "c--k," "c--t," "d--k," "balls," "ass," "a--hole," "bitch," "t-tty," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "crap," "vagina," "penis," "homo," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "oh my God," "whore," "slut," "turd," and more. Some disparaging remarks based on race.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Characters shop at a Home Depot, twice. A character wears a Nike tank top. The Penthouse logo appears on a shirt.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One of the main characters is a recovering cocaine addict who relapses and starts snorting cocaine again. His problem is treated comically. Characters inject steroids at the gym to build bigger muscles. The main characters kidnap a man and force him to drink alcohol. Characters also occasionally drink wine and smoke cigars.