After years of years of exile from the Wes Anderson tree for doing Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, Luke Wilson has finally reemerged in 2010 as something more than a chubby version of his former self that had been relegated to selling maps for AT&T. But, why the hiatus for such a talented young actor?
Wilson had been working diligently on a minor role in Death At A Funeral, a dumb down of a British comedy for American audiences, where he played the white guy in a black comedy. Sure, this role must have taken him hours to prepare for, but this still doesn’t adequately explain why I’ve been missing out on my Luke Wilson fix for the past 5 years. Then, I saw Middle Men, Wilson’s valiant return as a leading man, and it all made sense. Wilson must have been locked up in a sound booth for years recording voice over for this film. I have never seen a film so shamelessly rest on voice over to tell a story. Nearly 75% of the lines in the first half of the film are Wilson’s narration trying to string together the plot. I’m not one to harp on voice over as crutch, but there are limits and if I need an omnipresent narrator every step of the way, I still have my copy of Catcher in the Rye on the bookshelf.
Middle Men is the story of one the first online billing companies and how it came to be, sounds boring even for a documentary. But of course, their billing for porn, so the hot naked women and the chauvinistic businessmen are supposed to make this a compelling movie, too bad it fails. First off, they completely miscast Luke Wilson who is best known for roles as an everyday slacker not the business savvy leader. There are gapping holes in the plot that the audience is just supposed to gloss over because they are distracted by all the titties. Thankfully, Giovanni Ribisi shows up as the strungout genius junkie to give the film a shred of credibility. The awkward editing and misplaced cuts coupled with music choices that seem to be coming off of someone’s playlist shuffle throws off all rhythm and tone.
Cross your fingers Middle Men isn’t here to foreshadow another more famous Internet film, The Social Network.