Goodfellas; if instead of mobsters, they had naked chicks.
After spotting a big financial opportunity in the future of Internet pornography, straightlaced entrepreneur Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) enlists his pals Buck (Gabriel Macht) and Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi) to help him develop an online billing company specializing in adult entertainment. But as the firm takes off, Jack finds some unexpected kinks in the business of kink — including mobsters, the FBI, con men and terrorists.
Internet porn is something everybody uses, especially in today’s world but it’s funny to see how when internet came about and everything, that porn wasn’t the first thing on everybody’s mind for it.
The best aspect to Middle Men right away is it’s script which really does work. While the script isn’t as quick-witted as some films about a major technology breakthrough like The Social Network, the film still moves at a good pace with enough clever lines of dialogue following each other well. Also, in a time where so many movies want to be about sex and violence but don’t really have the guts to follow through with it, the writing on Middle Men has an edge that keeps it exciting throughout all the laughs.
The problem with this film that it seems a lot of others had was that you may find it the same exact formula that was used in such films as Boogie Nights and Goodfellas, but for me, the formula worked here. The story moved well and it didn’t really leave out any details about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. The narration from Wilson may seem a bit annoying at first because it does pop-up about every 30 seconds but I thought actually helped turn the plot and keep the naughty bits of this film going. The soundtrack is also bangin’ because songs that you haven’t heard in awhile come out of nowhere here and bring you back to a time like this film portrays.
My problem with this film that I actually had was that some of it feels a lot duller than other parts of the film and by the end for some reason, it becomes more of a suspense film rather than an actual tale of how internet porn all came to be. I get that this is an actual true story, but for some reason it just played like a bad suspense thriller that I already knew how was going to end so therefore all the mystery was lost.
Another problem with the film is that we see Wilson’s character in the beginning as this wholesome, nice-guy Texas family-man but he soon changes as he gets himself caught up in business with these two morons and for a reason why he changed, was not explained. This character transition of character made his character seemed disjointed and unexplained and what the real problem here is that the film tries to show this character in a slimy light, and positive light. For some reason, either way didn’t really work out.
Luke Wilson is here as Jack Harris, who (finally!) lives up to his potential as a leading man, which we haven’t really seen since Bottle Rocket. He brings humility and likability to a ‘smartest-guy-in-the-room’ character that makes you identify with Jack Harris’ succumbing to the chaos surrounding him and root for him to get out of it. His character may kind of have problems but Wilson knows how to keep this character likable and actually believable.
Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht are OK together as the two moron-savant programmers but nothing really special. They actually started to annoy me by the end of the film because their constant rambling and over-acting didn’t seem funny anymore, as much as it was just trying too hard for laughs. James Caan is brilliant with his turn as the shyster Las Vegas lawyer, Jerry Haggerty. The rest of the cast is backed up by good performances and cameos from the likes of Terry Crews, Kevin Pollack, Kelsey Grammar, and Laura Ramsey.
Consensus: Some of it is a bit messy, and a bit disjointed, but Middle Men also features some very good writing that gives us great detail about internet porn, while still providing good performances from the whole cast, especially Luke Wilson who shows that he can handle a film well too.