Films that take a behind the scenes view of the porn world are usually fun, Boogie Nights is great, I’m personally a fan of Zack & Miri Make a Porno; it’s just a fun subject to tackle in film because it seems rather taboo, so then why does Middle Men take it so seriously? This is the story behind the world of internet porn industry, Luke Wilson portrays Jack Harris, the man who came up with the idea to use a billing service company to hide the porn sites names on credit card bills, but is the porn industry really the type of business a family man like Jack wants to be in on?
Narration can be a tricky thing, get the right person to do it and it can be golden (Alec Baldwin in The Royal Tenenbaums is a shining example of this), and sadly that is not the case here. Wilson narrates most of the plot, it gets irritating, he states the obvious and goes into detail on points that seem useless within the context of the film. It starts off pretty funny, with a description of how men used to jerk off before the internet but as soon as the actual plot kicks in, someone should have cut the narration. Pair this with the awful CSI style editing the film uses (complete with redundant flashbacks to scenes that only happened 10 minutes prior) and it seems that director/writer Gallo really didn’t have a firm grasp on the story he wanted to tell. The good news is that the story is actually pretty strong and gripping, but weighed down with the overly stylistic editing and the cheesy voice over, it becomes a chore to keep up with the film.
It would be unfair to call this a bad film, it has a strong story (it’s The Social Network with boobies) with great character actors like Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht who turn in some great performances, as well as James Caan, who may not be at the top of his game but still gives most a run for their money. This film fails on the over stylistic post production process it seems to have gone through. The creation of one of the worlds leading industries should be an interesting enough story, it doesn’t need flashy gimmicks to emphasise its point. It’s never really boring but it can sure as hell be annoying.
Middle Men is available on DVD & BluRay now.