Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says 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
Positive 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.
Positive 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: 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.
Sexy stuff: 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: 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: Characters shop at a Home Depot, twice. A character wears a Nike tank top. The Penthouse logo appears on a shirt.
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.