Jack Harris (Luke Wilson - Henry Poole Is Here) was just a family man with a talent for sorting out messes, it is how he came to be involved with best friends Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi - Perfect Stranger) and Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht - The Spirit) who some how had managed to create a million dollar online business only to find themselves in trouble with the Russian Mafia. The trouble for wholesome Jack is that Beering and Dolby's business involves the online porn industry, which as a family man he doesn't want anything to do with. But having come on board, smoothed things over with the Russians as well as dealt with a slippery lawyer whilst turning their idea in to a proper business Jack finds that being in the midst of the porn industry and dealing with the Mafia changes him.
In many ways "Middle Men" reminds me of Martin Scorsese's "Casino" as we have this movie inspired by the true story of a man who got involved in running a business which had a seedy reputation and connections with gangsters. It is also a movie set in the past which covers a few years, has a variety of flawed characters and has a prominent soundtrack. But "Middle Men" is certainly not in the same league as "Casino" lacking that extra layer of finesse which you get from Scorsese. Yet what you also get is a wonderful layer of wit to some of the scenes which gives it some thing different and stops it from just feeling like director George Gallo is trying to imitate Scorsese.
Now to be honest "Middle Men" isn't an easy movie to review because it does have a bit of everything from some cheesy humour such as a scene at a church style picnic where Jack proposes to his wife, to scenes of the porn industry and yes this movie features some scenes packed with nudity. But then we have comical characters such as the duo of Beering and Dolby who spend time putting product up their noses, there are FBI agents, James Caan as slippery lawyer, Russian heavies and even Terry Crews as a nice guy heavy. It sounds all over the place and it genuinely is with just about everything thrown in to the mix but some how the humour, the nudity, the drama, the action and also the story of Jack's involvement with things escalating in a bad way works to make an entertaining movie.
A big part of why "Middle Men" succeeds is the inspired casting of Luke Wilson who has that everyman, down to earth quality about him which makes him perfect as the family man. But then he has the comedy to pull of some of the movie's lighter scenes and whilst the movie doesn't call for great dramatic acting still gives a good account in the dramatic scenes. Plus there are numerous familiar faces who show up in supporting roles with some famous actors such as Martin Kove and Kelsey Grammer showing up for just one scene.
What this all boils down to is that "Middle Men" is a lot more entertaining than it might sound and feels like those behind the movie tried to give it a bit of everything from some Scorsese style to some comedy, and they pretty much pull it off.