By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
History of the Internet porn industry; not for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's an argument to be made that the movie has a message about the true meaning of family, but the film's overall theme is one of wealth fantasy and a celebration of people who managed to figure out a way to become filthy rich, no matter how sleazy or lowdown their methods were.
Positive Role Models
Main character Jack Harris is brave, level-headed, and friendly, and his ultimate goal is to stay true to his family ... but he strays off that path more than once (including having a sexual affair with a porn star). Just about everyone else behaves badly most of the time.
Violence & Scariness
A minor character is punched, hard, in the head, and the blow kills him. Characters are slapped and punched and threatened with guns. A character is shot in the foot. A boy is kidnapped but not harmed. Loud arguments and squabbling with name-calling, pushing, and grabbing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The movie takes place in the porn industry. Characters appear to be having sex in crowd scenes, and the camera glances over them. Countless naked girls, mostly topless; a montage of men masturbating to their computer screens; "girl-on-girl action"; oral sex; a girl being seductive for the camera. The main character cheats on his wife with a porn star, and they're shown in bed together. Constant sex talk.
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Constant strong language includes almost every word in the book, from many uses of "f--k" and "motherf--ker" to "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "a--hole," "prick," "numbnuts," "idiot," "moron," "whore," "scumbag," "p---y," and lots of others.
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of companies like Visa, MasterCard, and Amazon, but nothing recurring or important to the story.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character doesn't do drugs, but two secondary characters have serious drug problems, mainly with cocaine. They're often shown snorting the drug or already high; it affects their work and their lives. They also smoke cigarettes, in the beginning, before they're rich enough to afford hard drugs. Characters also drink alcohol almost constantly -- everything from beer to hard liquor -- though no one is shown to be an alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Middle Men -- a fictional history of the Internet porn industry -- is filled with naked women (mostly topless), sexual imagery, and sex talk, as well as tons of foul language and overindulgence in drugs, booze, and cigarettes. It tries to establish a theme about the importance of family, but it's really more of a wealth fantasy and a celebration of people who are crafty enough to get rich. In other words, it may be interesting and well-made, but it's not age appropriate for anyone who's not mature -- physically or emotionally.
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Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 1 parent review
good when there older
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What's the Story?
Two drug-addled ne'er-do-wells (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) accidentally invent the Internet porn industry by developing a way to perform credit card transactions online and then charging $10 for a look at some dirty pictures. Their business explodes, and they wind up striking a deal with a Russian mobster (Rade Serbedzija) for more images. A sleazy lawyer (James Caan) gets involved, causing more trouble. When the deal goes bad, "middle man" Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) is called in. He plans to set things right, make some money, and return home to his wife and kids. But an unexpected violent incident -- as well as the constant lure of money and glamour -- causes Jack to get stuck. Can he get out before the other shoe drops?
Is It Any Good?
Written and directed by George Gallo, MIDDLE MEN spins one heck of a yarn, so crazy it must be true. Even so, it cheats a few details and simplifies a few things, such as making it look as if these characters are in charge of the entire Internet porn industry. Viewers looking for facts and specifics will be disappointed, but viewers looking for a good story will be hooked.
Gallo does a fine job of keeping things off kilter, using his large cast of characters like chess pieces, constantly attacking and under attack throughout. The movie plants Jack as the moral center, using his narration as a commentary on all the sleazy events and keeping him focused on the eventual goal of returning to his family. But the real draw here is the seductive power of quick wealth, easy sex, and limitless glamour. This could be a flaw in the movie's makeup, but it's a powerful one.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the movie depicts sex. Is it realistic? Does it address the consequences of the actions it shows?
Jack likes to claim that he's no more a pornographer than a hotel owner. But is what he's doing right, wrong, or somewhere in between?
How does the movie portray the porn industry? Do you think the "glamour" that seduces Jack is accurate?
- In theaters: August 6, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: February 8, 2011
- Cast: Giovanni Ribisi, James Caan, Luke Wilson
- Director: George Gallo
- Studio: Paramount Vantage
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence
- Last updated: March 18, 2023
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