Middle Men: Luke Wilson Fills the Insatiable American Appetite for Porn

If the plot of Middle Men sounds familiar—Luke Wilson gets in bed with James Caan, who just wants to fuck him—that's because it's the same as the plot of Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson's 1996 directorial debut, in which Wilson and Caan worked together for the first time. Middle Men is that tale told without the hard-boiled whimsy, though the classic-rock score remains: Wilson plays a relatively decent guy embraced by Caan's sleazebag operator, who then introduces him to the idiots who will bring about his ultimate undoing. Wilson plays Jack Harris, a wholly fictionalized character—"based on a true story," not so much—who, according to George Gallo and Andy Weiss' screenplay, helps introduce pornography to the World Wide Web and the World Wide Web to your credit card. But Jack's just the middleman, clearing the path for the inventors of online porn (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht), paying off Russian gangsters, Vegas attorneys (Caan), and other crooks and cronies who come at him. And though it plays like Goodfellas lite—its relatively short running time leaves no room for depth of feeling or character exploration—the compelling story holds, mostly thanks to Wilson. Easily his best performance since Bottle Rocket (don't say The Royal Tenenbaums, because Gene Hackman swallowed that cast whole, which was the point). Definitely better than those AT&T ads.

 
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