For a vanity project written by its two hunky male leads, Christopher Livingston's gym-based comedy Dumbbells is surprisingly sweet at its core. Granted, we're living in a post–Pain & Gain world, so any movie about gym culture made by people who aren't utter misanthropes is a breath of fresh air, but Dumbbells manages to be pleasant and largely inoffensive despite early indications that it might turn into a T&A-fest. Working at a run-down gym, failed college basketball player Chris (Brian Drolet) clashes with the gym's new owner, former male model Jack (former male model Hoyt Richards, recently seen in Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven), who intends to turn the gym into a reality show. Sitcom complications arise when Chris falls in love with Jack's niece Rachel (Taylor Cole), but the bro-centric Dumbbells is mostly about Chris and Jack's relationship — the female characters are largely stereotypes — and screenwriters Drolet and Richards do have good onscreen chemistry. "Walking on Sunshine" is used twice without irony, and the obligatory T&A and gay-panic jokes are kept to a relative minimum, though there's one shockingly anti-Semitic gag that even Pain & Gain director Michael Bay might have considered too broad. It's far from perfect (or even Perfect), but Dumbbells is better than it looks, and it means well.
Christopher LivingstonMircea Monroe, Carl Reiner, Taylor Cole, Jaleel White, Jay Mohr, Andy Milonakis, Tom Arnold, Olivia Taylor DudleyBrian Drolet, Hoyt RichardsGoDigital