Film Review: Middle Men

Middle Men
Starring: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, James Caan, Jacinda Barrett
Director: George Gallo
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Vantage
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence

Most people know that the largest worldwide provider of adult entertainment is the Internet. However, most people probably have no idea how that ever came to be. Paramount Vantage, the specialty film division of Paramount Pictures, offers a version of how the adult industry first hit the Internet with their latest release, Middle Men. Co-written and directed by George Gallo, Middle Men is a hilarious and often times dramatic look at how three men changed the Internet forever. Middle Men is now available to rent in SD, HD, and HDX a week before it is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray.

Middle Men primarily follows Jack Harris (Luke Wilson), a straight-laced, down-to-earth businessman with a knack for problem solving. Recently married and struggling to make ends meet, he heads to Los Angeles to help a friend save their business. While there, he’s called upon to use his problem solving skills to save the business of two “idiots” (Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht) who’ve invented a potential goldmine. They’ve created a way for people to use their credit cards to purchase online pornography. However, since they’re not business inclined, they have no idea how to maintain everything, which puts them in hot water with their business associates—the Russian mob. Jack knows he doesn’t want to get involved in the adult industry, but since he promised to help them out, he works with them to fix their issues and begin a legitimate business. However, he soon begins to enjoy the lifestyle, putting a strain on his marriage, and before he knows it, he gets mixed up with murder, porn stars, gangsters, the FBI, and terrorists, turning his life completely upside-down.

If Middle Men wasn’t based on real life events, some people might find the situations hard to believe. Then again, the fact that it is based on real life events also makes the situations hard to believe given the often intense and insane nature of them! Middle Men contains a rather unique blend of comedy, drama, and crime, but none of those genres tends to dominate the movie more than the others. It plays itself as life, which isn’t defined by genre. As in life, Middle Men has its moments of serious drama and humorous gaffes, but as in life, comedy can quickly turn to drama, and vice versa.

Middle Men should receive high marks for the performances it captures. Leading man Luke Wilson’s pedigree of serious and comedic performances makes him the perfect fit for a character that gets consumed in a whirlwind of chaos. Never knowing what will happen next, Wilson’s ability to play to a variety of genres helps to keep the movie grounded amidst a deluge of crazy people and situations. Giovanni Ribisi is another highlight given his exceptional talent for bringing off-the-wall characters to life. The paranoia and passion he brings to his character makes for some of the zaniest and wackiest moments in the movie that will have people laughing until it hurts. James Caan always brings bravura to his performances, and even for a man in his early 70s, he still commands the screen as someone to fear and respect. All in all, the acting is top-notch, and given the character-driven nature of the film, there are very few, if any, missteps from this talented cast.

The real question while watching this movie is whether or not this all really happened. In all likelihood it didn’t and some of the story elements were most likely embellished for the movie. However, that doesn’t make this film any less enjoyable. Even if the movie wasn’t inspired by true events, the story as it is presented in Middle Men makes for a worthwhile movie-going experience. Middle Men is a fun and enjoyable movie that is not to be missed.

DID YOU KNOW?

The events in Middle Men were based on the true story of Christopher Mallick, a producer on the movie. Mallick still owns the Internet billing company that is referenced in the film.