|With all the hubbub surrounding independent films and festivals and the like, it's easy to think that all independent films are genius. Of course, that's not necessarily true. Sometimes you get a bad film that has lots of hype, simply because it's the latest thing to come out of the independent filmmaking world. Well, Made suffers from something exactly the opposite. Other than some light advertising in Los Angeles and New York, I haven't seen the "this film is independent so you should watch it" advertising campaign. But that's the kind of ads that should be running for this film.|
The script is very offbeat and funny and although the film has much hand-held camera work, it doesn't come off as something only art-philes would flock to. But it's also far enough out of the mainstream way of making movies that it becomes something refreshing to see after an entire summer of blockbuster clones. Not that those blockbusters aren't a whole bunch of fun or anything. It's just good to have some variety. But this movie strikes a good balance between the two. It's got that gritty look so common to independent films, but it also sports a topic that would be at home on any 20 million dollar star vehicle.
And what's its subject? Well, as its mildly obvious from the title, Made is about two guys who get involved in a money-laundering scheme after they get in trouble with a low-level organized crime group. In true independent style, this film often made use of handheld cameras, jump shots (not the basketball kind), and long, extended shots that you usually never see in the larger movies. Long shots reveal two things about a picture. First, is that you've got a good crop of actors who can remember their lines. Two, you've got a picture that's interesting enough to allow the people on the screen be the focus of the film, rather than the camera work.
Speaking of camera work, this film also strikes a good balance between extreme movement with the camera, and steady shots. You don't get a stomachache from seeing the camera shake so much you think you're in an earthquake. But there's also that gritty feel to the film that makes it seem real and almost like a documentary. But this film is definitely not a documentary. The characters are too insane to be real. Both Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau (who also wrote and directed the picture) play two guys that are so screwed up you just know they're going get whacked at some point in the film.
In a style reminiscent of their Swingers days, Vaughn and Favreau play a couple of wannabe "made men" who get a job for a mafia boss in Los Angeles. They're both out of favor with the boss, who sends them to new york to take part in some kind of heist. They have no idea what kind of job they'll be doing, and along the way they come up with tons of ways to get the people around them pissed off. Vaughn's character is quite a sight and has a few spurts of dialogue and speeches where f**k is inserted after ever single word. Vaughn has a great delivery and I have to wonder whether or not in these long scenes where there are only a few shot changes and a lot of long speeches, if any of the dialogue was improvised.
Did Favreau really write the script like that with all the language so foul. Sheesh, listen to me, I sound like a catholic school marm. But the language in the film really is so foul that even the folks at HBO would probably start bleeping the dialogue. I guess my only complaint I have with the film is probably that vaughn's character is a little extreme at times. He has a few speeches that just go on a hair too long and seem a little bit too intense. The film also gets a little slow in scenes when the script dwells a little too much on the dialogue between the characters.
A great film needs to keep that balance between plot and character fluid throughout the movie so that the audience doesn't feel the movie is slowing down too much. But this slowing down doesn't happen all the time. It's just a few instances. So really, the film has a few problems, like most films, but nothing so major that you'd run from the theater screaming a mere five minutes after the opening credits finished rolling. This film also has an interesting cast. Sean Puffy Combs plays the part of a small-time gangster in New York that Vaughn and Favreau have to deal with. It's fun to see combs stretch his acting legs, though his character is very much like the type of person he portrays himself to be.
Famke Janssen gives a so-so performance as favreau's girlfriend. It's only a marginal performance though because her accent seems to drift in and out in each scene. One of the best characters in the film is Peter Falk's sleazy Los Angeles mobster character of "Max." He played one of those old men who you think is a sweet old man when actually he's a real bastard. He had the New York Italian thing down pat. A good variety of characters, a quirky script, and a good crop of actors make this film something really fun to watch and a great alternative to the usual mainstream bucket of popcorn.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.