“No Pain, No Gain” has no future beyond second-tier fests and latenight cable TV. Painfully sincere yet hopelessly amateurish dramedy about a brainy bodybuilder who wants to succeed without steroids has the look and feel of an indie effort made for a small circle of friends, many of whom are listed in the credits.
Working from a simplistic script he co-wrote with Darryl Wimberley and Jodi Lane Baum, first-time helmer Samuel Turcotte follows the plodding progress of Mike Zorillo (Gus Malliarodakis), an Ohio bodybuilder who journeys to Los Angeles to prove his theories regarding “natural metabolic triggers that promote muscle growth.” This approach places him in conflict with Jake Steel (Dennis Newman), a steroid-enhanced bodybuilding champ, and Crystal Rivers (Kim Travis), oversexed owner of sports nutrition company that employs Steel as spokesperson. As if to compensate for Malliarodakis’ stiff performance in lead role, Turcotte encourages supporting players — including Newman, Rivers and Joe Hursley as an aggressively wacky researcher — to overplay parts in cartoonish fashion. Ain’t It Cool News gadfly Harry Knowles provides an unfortunately apt appraisal during a cameo appearance in the party sequence: “A bodybuilding movie will never sell!”