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Pain: The Movie
no screen captures could be obtained for this review.
If State Property 2 is the McDonald's across town (you know, the one with halfway decent service and clean floors), then Amir Valinia's Pain: The Movie (2004) is the run-down McDonald's you pass by on your way there. In short, this story of "life on the streets" is a low-rent version of an idea that was never that great in the first place.
Clichés are piled high, characters generally fall flat and the movie's generic plot trudges along like a bloated music video. State Property 2 and the like are overblown to the point of unintentional comedy---at least in the same way that Plan 9 From Outer Space is---while Pain is just flat-out boring during the bulk of its 108-minute runtime. Unless they're trying to sell the message that street life is painfully dull (which they aren't, of course), that means it's a failed effort right out of the gate.
Just how bloated is this movie? At its core, Pain is a simple story of cleaning up your act and trying to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, it spends more time calling attention to guest stars (most of whom are recording artists, including Baby Bash and Astrid) than actually moving the plot forward, resulting in a game of "connect the dots" when the movie should be drawing a straight line. It's actually geared towards inner-city ministry (as if the heavy-handed preaching didn't give that right away), but the message gets lost in the shuffle. The fact that it's also designed for church viewing is more baffling: not that the violence and other stuff is too over-the top, but this overlong movie might've been much easier to digest as a smaller pill.
While most of the supporting performances are pretty wooden, Yung Ro (as Beau, one of the main characters) actually turns in a fairly decent performance. Nicole Williams (most likely the daughter of Dr. Beau Williams, a gospel minister who plays her dad in the film) isn't half bad as do-gooder Angela either, though neither role is anything we haven't seen before. Despite being featured prominently on the cover, Baby Bash is limited to only a few minutes of screen time, whereupon he mostly just rubs his hands together and sneers. Most other supporting characters don't fare much better.
But let's keep this review short and sweet. After all, if I kept beating around the bush, I'd be just as guilty as the film itself. Here's what you really need to know: Pain is a dull, watered-down movie that could actually set inner-city ministry back a decade or more, so even the target audience probably won't get much out of this one. While the DVD presentation certainly isn't the worst I've seen, it's also not detailed enough to really stand out in the crowd. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
The menus designs are appropriate, combining a basic layout with very easy navigation. This 108-minute film has been divided into 20 chapters (though they aren't selectable from the main menu), while no apparent layer change was detected during playback. The packaging design is also very basic, as this one-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase along with a promotional insert.
Only a small handful of extras are on board here, but I can't say that was a disappointment. First up are eight Deleted Scenes (9 minutes total), though the film could've trimmed another 30 minutes with no problem at all. There's also a short Blooper Reel, consisting of the standard tomfoolery.
The last inclusion, A Word From the Producer (3 minutes), is so bad that it deserves its own paragraph. It's hosted by Levi (drug dealer "Floyd" in the film), who gives a short testimony…while standing next to his sweet ride. It's not bad at first, but he actually says (and I'm paraphrasing here) that "all those cats that served Jesus got mad paper". It's as if someone erased the story of Job---not to mention about a dozen others---out of his Bible and scribbled The Prayer of Jabez in its place. Luckily, he keeps things short because "he's late for an appointment". Only a fraction of the actual movie is this entertaining.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but Pain: The Movie is amazingly dull and really never gets its point across. I'm sure the director and producers meant well, but Pain is a clear case of when weak concepts are put in the hands of people who don't know how to improve them. The DVD isn't a terrible effort, but there's nothing here that should keep any level-headed consumer from leaving it on the shelf. Skip It.
Randy Miller III is a moderately affable desk jockey and art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA (how's that for diversity?). In his free time, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.