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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.06%
Worth A Look: 18.75%
Pretty Bad: 15.63%
Total Crap: 14.06%

5 reviews, 34 user ratings

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by Andrew Howe

"Memo to Jon - Stick to acting"
2 stars

Actors whose natural talents extend beyond the art of performance are rare commodities, and working under an experienced director or studying a successful screenplay rarely compensates for the absence of professional training. None of this wisdom prevented Jon Favreau from writing, directing and starring in Made, a low-budget comedy that uses up whatever goodwill he’s earned from his work in front of the camera over the last five years.

My failure to support the critical and popular bandwagon that rallied behind Swingers in 1997 had nothing to do with Favreau and Vince Vaughn – Favreau’s sensitive portrayal of a likeable Joe dealing with a painful separation was damn-near faultless, while Vaughn’s enjoyable fast-talking shtick read like an extended audition for the next Tarantino film. They probably should have used their salaries to hire better agents, however, because Favreau was consigned to a career of capable support (Deep Impact, The Replacements) and lead roles in films nobody saw (Very Bad Things, Love & Sex), while Vaughn’s talents were wasted on the likes of Psycho and The Cell (though he did turn in a memorable performance in Return to Paradise).

It would appear their reunion in Made marks an attempt to trade on the generosity of the Swingers fanbase, and replicating the success of the latter film would have provided the springboard for a renewed assault on the Hollywood mainstream. Unfortunately, Favreau’s misplaced faith in his own abilities may have done their cause more harm than good, since the script’s mildly diverting excursions into low-level drama and sporadically amusing set pieces aren’t enough to justify the price of a ticket.

Bobby (Favreau) is a construction worker who spends his leisure time brooding over his girlfriend’s choice of stripping as her primary source of income. After beating the crap out of one of her bachelor-party clients, he’s railroaded by his shady boss into performing a job for the Mob in downtown New York. It’s a simple task complicated by his partner in crime and best friend Ricky (Vaughn), a freeloading and freewheeling good-time guy whose scattergun mouth makes him an accident waiting to happen, and the film’s most enjoyable sequences involve watching this pair of dingbats attempt to impersonate seasoned criminals without copping a bullet to the brainpan.

It’s an intriguing premise, but the script relies heavily on Vaughn’s fast-talking persona to get the laughs, and that’s not enough to carry a ninety minute feature. Swingers peppered its narrative with insightful observations on the consequences of broken relationships, letting Vaughn off the leash at select intervals to work up the required momentum. In Made he never shuts up, and while his enthusiasm is infectious the disproportionate amount of improvisational filler makes a film bursting with comic potential appear surprisingly lightweight.

To his credit, Favreau attempts to make some salient points about unconditional friendship and sexual jealousy, but his efforts are undermined by the fact that every single character is a world-class loser. Bobby gives us little reason to believe he deserves a better life – his motives for immersing himself in a dysfunctional relationship are never entirely clear, and since his girlfriend’s a professional victim with a fine line in self-absorption it’s difficult to support his quest to get her out of the game (the best you can say about him is that he’s a misguided Samaritan, which might have aroused some measure of sympathy if not for Favreau’s decision to lumber his character with a perpetually surly disposition). To this uninspiring duo you can add a blithering idiot who makes it his mission to avoid taking responsibility for his actions and a supporting cast of deadbeats, scumbags and stone-cold killers, leaving us to ponder what Favreau thought he would achieve by denying us an investment in the film’s outcome.

The good news is that there’s enough on offer to justify a video rental on an off night – watching Bobby’s reactions to Ricky’s gross stupidity never gets old (Favreau must have spent years in front of the mirror mastering his trademark expression of long-suffering resignation), most of the performers rise above their thinly-scripted characters, and Christopher Doyle brings his professionalism to bear on the camerawork (though since he was responsible for the exquisite cinematography of In the Mood for Love you could argue that his valuable time should have been expended on a production that deserved it). The chemistry between Favreau and Vaughn works its old magic, and some of the dialogue is inspired, so if you can forgive the major players for placing the pleasures of each other’s company and self-indulgent improvisation above our enjoyment (otherwise known as The Anniversary Party Syndrome) it passes the time in a relatively painless fashion.

That’s not exactly high praise, however, and my greatest concern is that the failure of Made may work against Favreau and Vaughn‘s future employment prospects. Discovering that there’s only one Orson Welles is a lesson many actors have to learn the hard way, and we can only hope that the price doesn’t prove to be more than Favreau can afford to pay.

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originally posted: 02/21/02 17:38:20
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User Comments

1/07/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess Eh, it's alright 3 stars
8/27/05 ES Vince Vaughn unbelievably does this movie in as a guy so stupid its impossible to fathom 2 stars
1/20/05 Jeff Anderson A WORTHY & BRILLIANT FOLLOWUP TO SWINGERS! Vaughn and Favreau are pure gold together again! 5 stars
8/12/04 psycho dwarf Favreau gives too much latitude in his direction and script. This is a lazy mess. 2 stars
9/25/03 G$ Almost as good as Swingers. Definitely grows on you. Vaughan is hilarious 5 stars
7/12/03 Alice Thought it was very funny 4 stars
5/10/03 rue the whirl watch it. wait 6 months. watch it again. you'll love it. 5 stars
4/05/03 Jack Sommersby Very grating, but it JUST manages to get by. Combs is sensational. 3 stars
12/28/02 spacecowboy-00x nice cinematography and photography, and very entertaining 4 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 Having Vince/Favreau reunite is great, but the cameo by Screetch takes the cake...awesome! 5 stars
8/26/02 WestcoastPunk Hard to fallow up after Swingers. But a solid movie still 3 stars
7/28/02 Adam Voorhees Cool flick but suffers in the glory of Swingers. Enjoy it for what it is, a good time. 5 stars
4/08/02 stoolie-bird as good as Swingers 4 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Fun,Entertaining, and Favreau + Vaughn = lots of laughs 4 stars
1/27/02 Adam Voorhees It ain't Swingers but its 20 times better than that toilet humour we have everywhere now. 4 stars
1/05/02 specialK shit 1 stars
12/29/01 Josh Leiber A MESS! Really Really awful movie for too many reasons to list here. 1 stars
12/04/01 Andrew Carden Vince Is The Greatest Actor Alive!!!! 5 stars
12/02/01 The Bomb 69 all over the place, some funny some annoying 3 stars
11/28/01 seldom scene this is no swingers this is stinkers!!!!!! 1 stars
10/11/01 Garrett Cain Annoyed me so much that I had to laugh. 4 stars
10/11/01 Catherine Schneider Better Than Swingers 4 stars
10/11/01 Katie witty and hilarious 4 stars
10/08/01 Mark Davidson A complete mess and total disappointment -- especially after the greatness of Swingers! 2 stars
10/08/01 Jonathan Peters the character acting was to die for 5 stars
9/03/01 KCobain I can't wait to see it again. It sort of grows on you. 5 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean Vaughn's big mouth and big forehead made the movie. 4 stars
8/20/01 Michael A. Not a home run, but a solid double. V V dominated,I enjoyed the milieu and support players. 4 stars
8/20/01 Rob Never saw Swingers, but thought this was hilarious! 4 stars
8/19/01 Boomshanka Favreau is a one trick pony. And a bad actor. 2 stars
8/15/01 FrayLo i loved swingers. I wanted to hit vince vaughn with a crowbar. Still a decent movie. 4 stars
8/15/01 Jake Loved it. Vaughn was hilarious. 5 stars
8/10/01 malcolm i wanted to whack Vaugh myself after about 20 mins. Puffy was OK, surprisingly 3 stars
7/28/01 Suzz Easily one half of this film is completely boring and uninvolving. I began looking at my 3 stars
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  13-Jul-2001 (R)


  28-Feb-2002 (M)

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