Critics Consensus: Pain & Gain is Visceral But Uneven

Plus, The Big Wedding is a big misfire.

This week at the movies, we've got bodybuilding bad guys (Pain & Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and matrimonial mishaps (The Big Wedding, starring Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton). What do the critics have to say?

Pain & Gain

50%

Michael Bay is not the kind of guy to tone things down just because he's working with a smaller budget. However, critics say the auteur behind Armageddon and the Transformers franchise has tempered the visceral impact of Pain & Gain with a fair amount of black comedy, and the result is uneven but often queasily compelling. Based on a bizarre true story, Pain & Gain is the tale of three bodybuilders who concoct a scheme to kidnap a wealthy businessman and wrest control of his riches. However, the plan quickly goes awry, with violent repercussions. The pundits say Pain & Gain's pitch-black sense of humor and charismatic leads can't quite make up for the movie's stylistic excess and lack of nuance. (Check out this week's 24 Frames for a gallery of films based on magazine and newspaper articles.)

The Big Wedding

7%

Critics say The Big Wedding is a comedy that audiences should decline with regrets; its all-star cast is stranded in a contrived, strained plot that features broad stabs at humor but few laughs. Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton star as a divorced couple who reunite for their son's wedding and pretend to be happily married for the sake of his bride-to-be's conservative mother; hilarity allegedly ensues. The pundits say The Big Wedding is a big misfire, with shopworn slapstick gags and stereotypical characters.Check out this week's Total Recall for a countdown of Keaton's best-reviewed movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

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