I might go the risk of a quite broad or subjective question here, but I was surprised by how the story of Pain & Gain actually developed. From the trailer I expected a light-hearted action comedy about some simple-minded yet likable guys trying to kidnap a rich as**ole to get their share of the American Dream.

But while it started this way, it certainy developed into a rather unexpected direction. The three supposed heros completely lost their base for identification (and with it their role as heros) no later than when they decided to kill Kershaw (and while they weren't successful, the cold-bloodedness with which especially Lugo acted was quite a turn, even if maybe slightly foreshadowed already). And the focusing on the trio was also faltered as soon as they employed the same technique of inner monologues for Kershaw and DuBois.

From this point on it was unclear to me what the primary tone of the movie actually was. As the story and the trio's actions grew darker and darker it still remained rather comedic, with the humour ranging from simple to absurd to misplaced. Even for a black comedy the three protagonists (well, especially Lugo and Doorbal) turned out very evil in the end. And while I don't generally say Ed Harris cannot play in a comedy, his character DuBois and the scenes he was in were very sincere and made a strange contrast to the rest of the movie.

In retrospective it seemed more like an odd Coen brothers-movie than a Michael Bay-movie. So what I would like to know after all those ramblings is, what was the primary message or target audience of this movie? Were there any distortions to the story's tone during the transfer of the script into the actual movie (or maybe just during the transfer of the movie into my admittedly subjective impression)? Or was this just a case of an inappropriate trailer (but maybe there's a reason for this, too).

  • Quite unclear what I'm asking, I agree. But it's also hard to formulate better. I guess I'll have to see what the community thinks about it and act accordingly.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 1, 2014 at 22:13
  • I think I know what you're asking, but to be honest I don't think your formatting is helping much: within most writing styles, italics are usually reserved for referring to a film's titles or to add specific emphasis. Bold is probably better for emphasis on here though... are you asking if the the film is deliberately misleading in its promotion? this might need to be made a little more narrow in its scope... Feb 1, 2014 at 22:31
  • @JohnSmithOptional In general I use italics for titles, names and places and bold for emphasis (or the actual question). "are you asking if the the film is deliberately misleading in its promotion?" - Partly, if it was (and that would be a start for an answer, maybe). Or any other kind of unusual backstory in the production cycle (whatever that means) that could relate to my (admittedly subjective and hard to get across) impression of feeling slightly out of place.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 1, 2014 at 23:42
  • @JohnSmithOptional I see I should be more clear, but I'm not completely sure what it is I want to know exactly. To be honest I guess it's one of those rather off-topic/broad "what do you think/how did you feel"-questions but tried to be put into a more substantial direction. But maybe this wasn't enough and I can get it more concrete.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 1, 2014 at 23:43
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    I've not seen the film so I can't be much help I'm afraid, just thought it might carry a little better with some formatting. My advice would be to leave it for now, think about the sort of answer you'd like to get, then try and write it again but only use words and terminology you're totally comfortable with, as maybe some of the wording is stretching a little if you see what I mean? Feb 1, 2014 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


While I have no definitive source indicating the movie was re-edited prior to release, circumstances suggest a strong possibility. (Similar to removing the World Trade Center towers from Spider-man due to 9/11.)

Pain & Gain was released on April 26, 2013. Prior to the movies release (but after the trailer's release,) relatives of the victims were outspoken about the nature of the movie as documented by the Miami Herald. They described the film as a mockery that "trivialize(d) this horrible tale of torture and death."

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    Hmm, seems I'm not the only one deceived by the trailer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 24, 2014 at 16:31
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    No doubt. Further reading at the Miami Herald has an article 4/21/13 suggesting that Michael Bay meant it to be bizarre and that we should be laughing at the criminals not with them. If that is the case, he must not have had any input on the trailer because it was a total misrepresentation. Feb 24, 2014 at 16:37

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