..

MADE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk
Director: Jon Favreau
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
Studio: Artisan
Features: See Review
Length: 94 Minutes
Release Date: November 27, 2001

“Where are they taking us, Jimmy?”

“Yeah, where are they gonna whack us, Jimmy?”

Film ***1/2

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since a little gem of a movie called Swingers came out of nowhere and became an instant underground classic with the college scene. I still watch the movie frequently and laugh harder upon each viewing. It was one of my top favorite films of 1996, and much of the film’s success relied on the fresh tone of the comedy, created by the film’s two leading stars, Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Favreau was also credited with the writing of the movie, which was such a remarkable piece of comedic cinema that it should’ve received some Oscar consideration for best original screenplay. Much of my praise went towards a then unknown Vince Vaughn, who later went on to appear in much bigger productions such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park and The Cell. Vaughn created in that film one of the single funniest characters I had ever come across in any movie, spouting out knockout one-liners and creating such catchy phrases as “You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” When I first heard that Faverau and Vaughn were reuniting for another small project, I was immediately lit with anticipation. The result, Made, is yet another memorable riot of a movie, headlined by the same unbeatable rapport that made Swingers such a memorable classic.

Favreau and Vaughn play Bobby and Ricky, who have been best friends since their high school days. They are both currently down on their luck, struggling as aspiring heavyweight boxers in LA. They both have a day job building houses, and Bobby carries a second job as a personal manager to his stripper/girlfriend, Jess (Famke Janssen). She’s a complete wreck, working every night and sleeping all day, which prevents her from being a good mother to her young daughter, whom Bobby and Ricky are frequently looking after, and are more loving of her.

One night, Bobby drives Jess to a bachelor party gig, and after observing one patron’s perverted requests, loses it and lays a beating on him. That incident gets in trouble with his building job, with his boss, Max (Peter Falk), having to pay in damages since his pays out the strippers. Bobby pleads for a second chance, and Max agrees to delivering one, and a big one at that. He proposes to Bobby taking care of some mob-related business in New York, to which he immediately says yes to, and asks Ricky to accompany him, which isn’t easy for Max, because Ricky is a hothead who has screwed up in the past for Max, but he eventually agrees.

The two are given $1500 each, as well as round trip air tickets, and a numeric pager for business affairs. They soon find themselves en route to the big apple, but it’s not even before their airplane takes off that Ricky, feeling like a pimp king in first class, starts to make the trip difficult by hitting on the flight attendant. They arrive in New York greeted by limo driver Jimmy, played by Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos, who provides their transportation to the strange locations they are required to be at when ever paged. The trip turns into a hectic one for Bobby, who’s mind is on business, as he attempts to keep a lid on Ricky, who’s looking solely to party and hook up with women, or “honies” as he terms them, a la Swingers. Their business contact is local crime boss Ruiz, played by rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs who turns in an impressive acting debut. Ruiz is all about performance, which leaves him pretty much un-impressed with Bobby and Ricky, as the two are told to keep cool in their business dealings, only to have Ricky unwisely open his mouth at the wrong time.

Like Swingers, the success of Made goes mostly to Vince Vaughn’s priceless performance as Ricky, a fast talker who’s a magnet for trouble even though he means well, and thinks mostly with his mouth and not his brain. It’s hard to create a character like this, one that’s should come off as someone who’s intensely unlikable, and Vaughn is able to make Ricky into a charming loser, something that I have rarely seen an actor do. It’s simply a masterful job of performance. Favreau scores on his acting level, too, and much credit should go his way too for creating this sharp and entertaining piece, and the supporting work from Falk and Combs is priceless.

Made is one of this year’s best films, and marks a successful directing debut for Jon Favreau. Those looking for a comedy, especially fans of Swingers, should take immediate notice.

Video ****

Made is loaded with lots of visual style, and the DVD presentation from Artisan is a viewing pleasure that enhances this quality. Right from frame one, the image quality is that of a superb one, as this anamorphic presentation glows with vibrant colors and bold clearness and sharpness. Completely voided of any softness or image compression, Artisan scores high with simply one of the best transfers ever.

Audio ****

The power of this 5.1 presentation comes mainly from the film’s soundtrack, which consists mostly of bluesy music, as well as some modern hip hop numbers. A few scenes take place in nightclubs, which also payoff extremely well. In addition to that, simple scenes consisting of dialogue come in clear as clear can be. The audio job on Made marks another DVD high point for Artisan.

Features ****

Artisan delivers with one of the best loaded discs to date. This is a first rate line up of extras, as we are treated to a funny and wonderful commentary by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, who are frequently insightful with the process of getting such a film made (no pun intended). There are many funny moments in the film, as the two occasionally kid around about the fact that Vaughn’s character is at times a resemblance of the character from Swingers. The commentary also has an action illustration option, where arrows and lines are drawn to point out certain things they are talking about, some of which caught me by surprise. Also included are three documentaries, “Getting it Made”, “The Creative Process”, and “The Music of Made”, a scene edit work shop, a hilarious compilation of outtakes, alternate and deleted scenes, both with optional commentary, a montage of used and un-used music cues, and a trailer and a teaser for the film.

Summary:

Made is a comedic gem that also carries an involving story of two unlucky guys who get much more than they bargained for. A bravo job from Vaughn and Favreau, and I certainly hope to see the two together in another project sometime in the future. That would be absolutely MONEY!