Actor Luke Wilson has gone from promoting AT&T to pitching pornography in his new film, “Middle Men.” If “Middle Men” makes any money, the communications giant may be looking for a new, cleaner face to represent it on TV.
Inspired by a true story, “Middle Men” does show Jack Harris (Wilson), as the only slightly reputable character swimming in a sea of sleaze. He’s a sober family man, who has a knack for smoothing over difficult business deals, which we see in multiple montages accompanied by Rolling Stones music and done better by Martin Scorsese (“Casino,” “Goodfellas”) and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia”).
As with the AT&T commercials, Wilson’s voiceover narration instructs us. However, his Jack Harris is not concerned with virtues of a type of telecommunications technology, but with the limitless profit from the appetite for Internet porn, made unquenchable by males the world over.
According to director George Gallo and co-writer Andy Weiss’s script, corporate online porn begins in the late ‘90s when two LA cokeheads, Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), grow tired of masturbating to the same old slutty images on the Internet. So they scan some stuff from upscale girlie magazines and charge via credit cards for each and every peepshow peek. Soon, they are rolling in dough and in big trouble with Russian mobsters. All purpose business wiz Harris is brought in, thanks to sleazy lawyer Jerry Haggerty (flimflam expert James Caan). Harris maintains his clean-cut veneer to himself and his family by saying that he was merely setting up a billing service, with the porn hidden under non-sexy-sounding names. He even poses as patriot when the FBI uses his sites to zero in on terrorists when they pleasure themselves to a particular sex show. But the boom is bound to burst. The unstable duo, Wayne and Buck, introduce underage sex starlets to their websites, while mob muscle leads to murder. Director Gallo keeps things moving, yet never meets the level of Scorsese at his most mediocre.