MIDDLE MEN 3 stars
Paramount Pictures, Rated R
An irreverent, strictly behind-the-scenes tabloid peep show about sex without being sexy, Middle Men shines a sleazy, at times satirical spotlight on all those invisible guys out there who make stuff happen in the online porn world without ever taking their clothes off. A composite fictional account of what went down back in the late ’90s as pornography first broke out all over the Internet, Middle Men is based on some evidently sordid life experiences of the film’s producer Christopher Mallick, but he’s not talking. Likely to protect the guilty; who can say.
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Luke Wilson is Jack Harris, a Texas suburban family man and business consultant with some awfully strange clients. Venturing into increasingly unconventional waters, Jack gets a gig advising a gangster (Robert Forster) in kinder and gentler methods of operation before he considers breaking kneecaps. He then moves on to dispensing financial advice to a pair of out of control computer geeks—Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi), a barbiturate freak and failed veterinarian, and brainy NASA outcast Buck (Gabriel Macht).
Strapped for cash, the duo set up possibly the first porn website in existence, but can’t figure out how use it to generate profits. That is, until they invent a computer program enabling credit card numbers to be typed in as a money transaction, which not only ends up filling their coffers with huge amounts of money they had no idea what to do with, but actually lays the blueprint for the entire Internet credit card payment system. From masturbation to MasterCard, who knew.
As Jack assists the accidental entrepreneurs in developing their venture by acquiring fresh content photographed at strip clubs, the Russian mob moves in and demands a share of the revenue. Also turning up to run interference are the authorities, who are convinced they can nab terrorists with the cyber-smut peddlers’ assistance by monitoring insurgent World Wide Web porn downloading preferences.
George Gallo’s slickly paced, surprise-at-every-turn Middle Men captures the deranged and delirious danger junkie joy ride that defined the advent of the Internet and online porn. Sex, Lies And MasterCard.