George Gallo’s Middle Men opens next week, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the mainstream marketing (of which there is little, if any), or the outreach of any studio publicity department representative. It’s an orphaned Paramount Vantage release, with parent corporation Paramount handling in shrugging fashion what I gather is a contractual theatrical release to an unknown number of theaters.
But do they have reason to shrug it off? I checked out the trailer, and it plays — there’s a nice mix of music (Deee-Lite, Biggie, “Super Bon-Bon”), strippers, porn stars, hammy fisticuffs, a cross-bow, someone “making it rain” and all other manner of montage-captured material excess. Smart use of the phrase “mad men,” too, in the trailer’s voiceover; trying to
gravy-train some of the love for AMC’s small screen series is certainly not a bad strategy.
Starring Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht (oh, and Laura Ramsey), it’s one of these “I’m-comin’-up,” fratty-bratty business guy tales, like a boozy cross between The Social Network and The Boiler Room. It doesn’t look cheap, either, given all the locations and extras involved. So despite the presence of Wilson — seemingly the default star every studio project that can’t attract a heavy hitter — and despite the suicide release date against The Other Guys, another guys-guy flick with a much bigger profile, it’s a bit curious that this isn’t getting more of a push. After all, you have a movie, based on a true story, about the early-days intersection of the web and porn, with political blackmail and other commercial intrigue thrown in to boot. If you’re a major studio that can’t sell that (or, weirder still, don’t even really try) what exactly constitutes “mainstream” to you?