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Made
cast: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, and Peter Falk

writer and director: Jon Favreau

96 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental
[released 22 July]

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Porl Broome
Five years after the success of Swingers, Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn reunite for this tale of bumbling mobster wannabes - although this time Favreau has upped his credits from just writing to writing, directing and co-producing (along with Vaughn). The film kicks off by steadily introducing us to Bobby (Favreau), who dreams of being a professional boxer but is currently making ends meet by doing odd jobs for local underworld bigwig Max (Peter Falk). Bobby lives with his girlfriend Jessica (Famke Janssen) - who also works for Max, as a stripper - and her young daughter. His best friend is Ricky (Vaughn), who at some undisclosed point in the past took a bullet for his pal, which has led to Bobby feeling indebted to him. Bobby has made arrangements with Max to ensure that Ricky is never out of a job, despite his constant screw-ups and inability to do anything the easy (and quiet) way.
   Things haven't been going smoothly recently, and Bobby is in trouble with Max due to an incident involving a client of Max's, Jessica, and his fist connecting with the client's jaw. In order to repay the client's dental bill, Max arranges for Bobby to fly to New York to take care of some business. He agrees, on the proviso that Ricky can go with him. Whereas Bobby is looking at the job as a one-off deal and a way for Jessica and himself to buy their way out of Max's debt, Ricky jumps at the chance to move his way up the mobster ladder, and dreams of a better life for himself (and some guns).    It's the old smart guy with dumb guy dynamic that forms the backbone to Made, and the relationship between Favreau and Vaughn makes for a memorable screen partnership. Favreau's script is witty, clever and allows room for both characters (especially Vaughn's) to expand and improvise. The direction is gritty, not too flashy and enhances the deadbeat mood of the film. The acting is also excellent, not only from the two leading men, but also from the cast of familiar faces providing support - including Falk, Janssen and Sean (P. Diddy) Combs as Ruiz, the boys' New York contact.
   I really wanted to love this film, and, for the first 40 minutes are so, I did. But what starts out as the film's most endearing quality, soon becomes its Achilles' heel - and that is Vaughn's character, Ricky. He is just so irritating, and unrepentantly stupid, that there comes a point where you've almost had enough and you just want to slap him - and this irritation makes the middle third of the film almost un-watchable. Fortunately, things are toned down a little toward the climax, and Favreau manages to tie things up quite nicely.
   This could have easily been one of those films you come back to time and time again - but unfortunately that fine line between stupidly funny and irritating is a difficult one to walk, and the line is overstepped a few too many times here. Still, it's good to see both Favreau and Vaughn back, and I look forward to them being given the chance to hone their talents further.
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