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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.