- Critical Dissonance: Pain & Gain got mixed reviews and had the third best Rotten Tomatoes score for a Michael Bay film (after The Rock and Transformers).
- Crosses the Line Twice: The exploits of the gang is played as Black Comedy, but the actual context of their actions note would make it hard to tell the story in any other way.
- Ensemble Dark Horse
- Ed DuBois, the only heroic character in the movie and is much more likable in the movie than Lugo himself. It doesn't hurt that he's played by Ed Harris.
- Paul Doyle, for being a tragic Anti-Villain that didn't want any part and gets redeemed by the end after all his troubles. Dwayne Johnson portrays that quite well in the movie.
- Jerkass Woobie:
Ed DuBois: You are one difficult victim to work with, Victor.
- Paul bounces between being this and a standard Woobie. On one hand, he was recovering drug addict who was manipulated into going along with Lugo's plans but on the other, he's also a self destructive, aggressive coke head.
- Kershaw is an odd example in which while he's still an unpleasant prick, but still manages to have bouts of pity. Lampshaded by DuBois near the end of the movie.
- He Really Can Direct: When critic Bob Chipman listed this film as one of the best movies of 2013, he expressed disbelief that he was actually praising a film directed by Michael Bay. In this case, Bays over-the-top style actually worked well with the story, as the real life events were already completely ridiculous.
- Nausea Fuel: Doorbal is a source of this: he tells Paul that he should try human breast milk and says drinking it "from the source" is "the best"; he's shown (failing at) masturbating and getting painful injections to his penis (neither are explicitly shown); he also suggests that they could remove Mrs. Griga's breast implants and sell them, which would have actually been a good idea since the serial numbers (which he was unaware of) later helped ID her body — the other two were either too shocked or too busy to go through with it.
- Probably more uncomfortable than "nauseous", his sex scene with the fat nurse is definitely awkward, as was her later revelation that he finger-banged his lawyer.
- Paul giving his bloody severed toe to the Griga's chihuahua probably counts.
- Danny offers free waxing for new clients and we see one homely woman who definitely needs it.
- One-Scene Wonder: Peter Stormare as what may be the most awkward oncologist in recent memory.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In the film's ending, it only states that "Victor Kershaw's name was changed in the film to protect the survivor." While in real life, Marc Schiller (whom the character Kershaw is based off) was arrested immediately after he testified against the Sun Gym gang and was charged with a fraudulent Medicare scheme that generated $14 million. It's often considered by many to be a huge Kick the Dog to a victim who had to face his tormentors. It could have been interesting to show Kershaw getting arrested right after, especially for the viewers who still viewed Kershaw as a Jerkass in the end.
- What an Idiot!: More or less everyone involved in the scheme holds the Idiot Ball at some point.
- Doyle needs to burn some chopped-off hands in a barbecue to get rid of the fingerprints, so what does he do? He does it in the front yard and waves at the neighbors as he's doing it.
YMMV / Pain and Gain