DVD review | Middle Men – Luke Wilson’s Mr Fixit guides us through the early days of internet porn

Middle Men - Luke Wilson plays entrepreneur Jack Harris in this dark comedy about the early days of internet porn

Described as Boogie Nights meets GoodFellas, raunchy dark comedy Middle Men explores the early days of internet porn in America as seen through the eyes of Luke Wilson’s upright Texas family man turned unlikely porn entrepreneur, Jack Harris.

A canny problem solver, Jack steps in to help, circa 1995, after web geeks Wayne and Buck (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) hit upon the internet’s first program for secure online credit-card transactions.

Given the public appetite for net porn, it’s a foolproof money making scheme – which is a good thing because, for all their smarts, Wayne and Buck are fools, a pair of coked-up scumbags prone to shooting themselves in the foot.

Soon enough, they’ve allowed James Caan’s sleazball lawyer and Rade Sherbedgia’s menacing Russian mobster to muscle in on the enterprise, and that means Jack eventually has to use all his wiles to extricate himself in one piece from this sleazy and dangerous world.

Middle Men - Gabriel Macht, Rade Sherbedgia & Giovanni Ribisi star in this raunchy dark comedy set in the world of internet porn

Inspired by the reputed experiences of the film’s producer, Christopher Mallick, Middle Men casts its protagonist in a suspiciously flattering light  – he’s the sharp-witted Mr Fixit who dives into the grubby world of porn and somehow manages to keep his integrity, notwithstanding his marriage-threatening affair with 23-year-old porn starlet Audrey Dawns (Laura Ramsey). Then again, as he’s the character modeled on Mallick, what did you expect?

Fortunately, Wilson, whose wry voice-over guides the viewer through the film’s tricksy flashback-driven narrative, brings enough dark and disreputable shades to the character of Jack for the film to work. Director and co-writer George Gallo (who wrote the great 1988 Robert De Niro comedy thriller Midnight Run) gives the film visual flash and scuzzy energy, and the supporting performances are enjoyably ripe. Look out for Kelsey Grammer whose brief cameo as a gleefully two-faced politician provides the film’s funniest line.

Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Paramount Home Entertainment on 25th July.

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