Middle Men review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Wait – there was a time when porn can’t be purchased anonymously?!
Oh yes. It’s 1995 and two young men, a veterinarian (Giovanni Ribisi) and rocket scientist (Gabriel Macht), are sick and tired of being judged for their choice of vice: pornography. They come up with a way to bar judgment and promote enjoyment – they set up a website where porn addicts can download porn for a fee and best of all, they can do it anonymously. When their dot-com business becomes too big for their own good, they partner with Jack Harris (Luke Wilson), a cool-headed family man who changes the porn industry forever. Such is the premise for the movie ‘Middle Men’, directed by George Gallo which he also co-wrote with Andy Weiss.
Based on a true story feature which deals with the trappings of instant success (drugs, Russian mobsters, federal agents, lawsuits, porn stars) and the repercussions of being a porn mogul.
Middle Men’s look and feel resembles ‘Boogie Nights’ (also about porn) and Martin Scorsese’s cult classic ‘Goodfellas’. It tries very hard to be raw, sentimental, relevant, and frantic all at the same time, and it results in another movie biting off more than it can chew. Luke Wilson as a porn mogul seems suspect but Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht are believable junkies. Veteran actor James Caan gives the movie an element of credibility as an ominous lawyer.
Luke Wilson’s Jack Harris starts off as a decent and on-point businessman but by the end, you see him disheveled, erratic, and eventually, high on the potent mix of drugs, alcohol, women, and fame/infamy. ‘Middle Men’ is the rockstar-ization of porn pioneers; something we live with to this day. We live in a world where Hugh Hefner is still the mack daddy and pimps and madams get book deals; former child actors and pop starlets are barely naked on magazine covers, and anyone who’s allergic to clothes can have a reality TV show. Doesn’t it make you want to button up and wear ginghams to feel innocent again?