Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

You want to watch porn but you hate going to those sleazy porno shops because for starters they don’t mop their floors and there’s always the off chance you will run into your pastor while you’re there. What you would like to have happen is the ability to pipe porno into the privacy of your home and have some innocuous way to pay for this porno you desire to watch, that won’t expose you to your family as the sick and perverted bastard that they probably already knew that you were in the first place. Problem Solved! Say hello to Jack Harris as played by actor Luke Wilson in this movie ‘Middle Men’ which is one of those movies that we are told is ‘Inspired by True Events’. After watching ‘Middle Men’ and enjoying ‘Middle Men’ for the most part I’m going to guess the emphasis here is on ‘Inspired’ with far less of it having anything to do with the word ‘True’.

The character of Jack will narrate this movie throughout as he takes us through his humble beginnings as a struggling something or another in Houston Texas to basically the most important person on the planet earth. Far removed from Jack in Houston are a couple of highly functional retards in Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck (Gabriel Macht) in Los Angeles. I believe the year was around 1997 and Wayne, while stoned, thought it would be cool to be able to watch naked pictures of various women on the internet and then have people pay you to do this via credit card. Buck, while stoned, wrote a software program which made this happen and just like that internet commerce had just been born.

But where does Jack figure into all of this? Though I have no idea what Jack’s true vocation is, he does inform us that he has the gift of solving problems. And Wayne and Buck have a problems. Their little porn business grew way to fast, they have no business skills, they went into a partnership with the Russian mob and now they owe this Russian mobster (Rade Serbedzija) an awful lot of money. One of Jack’s acquaintances familiar with his specialized set of skills, a real sleazy lawyer named Jerry (James Cann), informs Jack of the predicament of these idiots and the fact this thing they have developed has the potential to be absolutely huge.

Jack is a little hesitant at first, having no desire to be a pornographer, but after a little mental justification and making sure Jerry has nothing to do with this little venture due to his penchant for getting indicted, he accepts the challenge. Jack made a slight adjustment to the billing procedure so that the porn that we will buy will show up as something innocuous on our credit card bills, thus keeping our significant others in the dark about what that purchase really was… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ah… but with big success comes big problems. Jack is never home, constantly neglecting his wife Diana (Jacinda Barrett) and their children, the Russian mob is still in the picture and Jack did something really bad to the mob which would upset these mobsters greatly if they ever found out about what he did, Jerry is still in the picture and he’s an asshole, Jack has found having illicit sex with young pretty porn stars is somewhat addicting and very bad for marriage, he’s caught the attention of the FBI and his partners Wayne and Buck are two of the dumbest bastards on the planet Earth. Good luck with all of that, Jack.

I’ll say one thing about George Gallo’s film ‘Middle Men’ in that it is not short on energy. Think about it... this is a movie that is basically about making credit card transactions and this movie about credit card transactions is filled with mobsters and sex and violence and murder and porn stars and drugs and kidnapping and fist fights and orgy’s and terrorist plots and all kinds of stuff. Credit card transactions. Now, possibly because of all of the… stuff… in this movie it is not surprising that ‘Middle Men’ got a little unwieldy as it was snaking its way to its conclusion, perhaps massively unwieldy too be honest because how much pure insanity can happen to one simple man over the course of a couple of years? And while I’m sure there is some basis in truth in this story I’d be willing to bet the majority of this nonsense came from the fertile imagination of Gallo and his co-writer Andy Weiss.

But the insanity was fun to watch. Observing Giovanni Ribisi give another clinic on the fine art of overacting is always a joy, Sonny Corleone is still tearing up the screen at the age of 110 and Terry Crews is in this movie. Putting Terry Crews anywhere in your movie usually guarantees it’s going to be entertaining to some degree. We’ve said this before and it bears repeating but we do not know if Luke Wilson can actually act or not, I mean I don’t believe we’ve ever seen Luke Wilson play an action hero or a drug addict or a serial killer or anything like that. He is usually cast as an everyman who is in over his head, but the thing is not a lot a people can do this singular thing the way Luke Wilson can do this singular thing. If I was casting a movie and I needed an Everyman who is in over his head and Luke Wilson was busy… then I’d wait for Luke Wilson to get un-busy. Not surprisingly Luke Wilson was at his Luke Wilson best in this.

‘Middle Men’ was out of control, no doubt. Probably could’ve used a little reeling in here and there, but I can’t be too hard on a movie that has way too much stuff in it when the majority of this stuff was so entertaining to watch. I’m not the one to do that.

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