Combustible Celluloid
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With: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, James Caan, Jacinda Barrett, Kevin Pollak, Laura Ramsey, Rade Serbedzija, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer, Graham McTavish, Robert Forster, John Ashton, Jason Antoon, Martin Kove, Diane Sorrentino, Stacey Alysson, Richard Wilk, Robert Della Cerra, Leon 'Bubba' Ganter, Dexter Jasper, Melissa Bustamante, Claudia Jordan, Jesse Jane
Written by: George Gallo, Andy Weiss
Directed by: George Gallo
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence
Running Time: 105
Date: 05/17/2009

Middle Men (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Porn Ultimatum

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by George Gallo (Trapped in Paradise, Homeland Security), Middle Men spins one heck of a yarn, so crazy it must be true. Even so, it cheats a few details and simplifies a few things, such as making it look as if these characters are in charge of the entire internet porn industry. Viewers looking for facts and specifics will be disappointed, but viewers looking for a good story will be hooked.

Two drug-addled ne'er-do-wells (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) accidentally invent the internet porn industry by developing a way to perform credit card transactions online, and then charging $10 for a look at some dirty pictures. Their business explodes, and they wind up striking a deal with a Russian mobster (Rade Serbedzija) for more images of naked girls. When the deal goes bad, "middle man" Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) is called in. He plans to set things right, make some money, and return home to his wife and kids. But an unexpected violent incident, as well as the constant lure of money and glamour, causes Jack to get stuck. Can he get out before the other shoe drops?

Gallo does a fine job of keeping things off-kilter, using his large cast of characters like chess pieces, constantly attacking and under attack throughout. The movie plants Jack Harris as the moral center, using his narration as a commentary on all the sleazy events, and keeping him focused on the eventual goal of returning to his family. But the real draw here is the seductive power of quick wealth, easy sex, and limitless glamour. This could be a flaw in the movie's makeup, but it's a powerful one.

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