Michael Bay, 129 mins, 15; Morgan Spurlock, 92 mins, PG

Film review: Pain & Gain, One Direction's This Is Us - No better way to wash down a plate of beefcake than with a sweet slug of pop


Something's wrong. This week I'm in the unsettling position of having enjoyed two films which any right-thinking person should loathe unreservedly. One of them is directed by Michael Bay, the intelligence-insulting machine behind Pearl Harbor and Transformers. And if that weren't heinous enough, the other is a documentary promoting a Simon Cowell boy band.

The first of the two, Pain & Gain (***), is a small-scale character study by Bay standards, even if the characters it's studying are the size of steam rollers. A stranger-than-fiction true story set in Miami in the mid-1990s, it stars Mark Wahlberg as a personal trainer with an addled self-improvement philosophy – something to do with body-building, patriotism and the illegal acquisition of wealth. America, after all, is "the most buff, pumped-up country on the planet".

Unwilling to accept that someone with his pecs and abs shouldn't be a millionaire, he hatches a plan to kidnap a wealthy client (Tony Shalhoub), and force him to sign over his entire fortune. But because his scheme is "too intense" to accomplish alone, he teams up with two even thicker, musclier gym buddies, a born-again ex-con (Dwayne Johnson), and a steroid addict (Anthony Mackie).

The Three Huges then blunder through an endearingly acted, darkly farcical crime plot that could have come from a Carl Hiaasen novel or even – whisper it – a Coen brothers film.

Bay being Bay, of course, the resemblance only goes so far. Pain & Gain would be better if he didn't keep battering us about the head with booming music and frenetic camera-work. If he was worried about losing our attention, maybe knocking half an hour off the running time would have put Bay's mind at rest. But if his film is as brash and oversized as its leading men, it can also be very funny about how ignorant and delusional those men are.

For the benefit of those readers who don't have daughters between the ages of six and 16, One Direction are five young male singers who were thrown together on The X Factor in 2010 when they didn't make the grade as solo performers. Since then, they have become global megastars, and they seem to have spent most of their earnings on hair products and dreadful tattoos. So, I wasn't inclined to appreciate One Direction: This Is Us (***).

After about half an hour, though, I had to conclude that the documentary, directed by Morgan "Super Size Me" Spurlock, was remarkably painless. I wouldn't call it gripping – there are only so many times you can watch one of the band-members murmur, "This is crazy," as he gawps at an arena which is about to fill up with fans.

But it's a zippy, unpretentious tour video with some surprising human touches. Particularly touching are the testimonials of those family members who have barely seen Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis and Liam since they left for their X Factor auditions.

As for One Direction themselves, they turn out to be amazingly well-adjusted, down-to-earth, wryly funny chaps who are grateful for their sudden fame, despite having a schedule so punishing that the social services should probably be alerted.

Last year's Justin Bieber documentary set out to convince us of his phenomenal talent – and left us in doubt about whether he was convinced of it himself – whereas This Is Us suggests that 1D are well aware of how lucky they are.

They know that they owe their success to the hormones and Twitter addiction of their fans. And they expect to be remembered, one of them says, as "normal guys – but terrible, terrible dancers".

Critic's Choice

Lives intersect in a turbulent Egypt in 2011 ... Winter of Discontent is a timely, angry, political drama from director Ibrahim el-Batou. Meanwhile, Onata Aprile is remarkable as the little girl caught between feuding divorcees Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan in the salutary What Maisie Knew.


Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Gravelle on trial for Danny Latimer's murder as Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

Review: Broadchurch episode 7

Arts and Entertainment
Barry Norman has predicted a Best Actor win for Michael Keaton at this Sunday's awards

Arts and Entertainment
The right stuff: 'Ukip: the First 100 Days'

Review: UKIP: The First 100 Days TV
Arts and Entertainment
Anastasia Steele with Christian Grey in his offices in Fifty Shades of Grey

Arts and Entertainment
Class act: Julia McKenzie and Keeley Hawes in 'The Casual Vacancy'

JK Rowling's story is a far better drama than it is a book

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Channel 4's Indian Summers

Arts and Entertainment
The BBC's version of 'The Crimson Petal and the White'


Arts and Entertainment
We will remember them: 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London

Art Police investigate abuse sent to Paul Cummins over Tower of London installation

Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman was named worst actress for her performance as Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game; the film’s producer, Harvey Weinstein, said the UK government ought to honour its subject
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower