middle men
via Paramount Vintage

A seedy pornographic crime caper tries to stay clean on the streaming charts

The early days of the internet were a lawless wasteland.

On their own, it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that cinema, crime thrillers, character-driven dramas, and internet pornography are all very popular pastimes, but when the four were combined for 2009’s Middle Men, the results weren’t great.

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George Gallo’s period piece enjoyed a measly three-week run in theaters before being made available in home video, where it failed to even generate $800,000 in ticket sales. Despite the best efforts of a game cast, not to mention a story inspired by a fascinating period in modern digital history, Middle Men couldn’t shake off the shackles of mediocrity.

middle men
via Paramount Vintage

Luke Wilson headlines as a businessman who gets led astray by drug-addicted would-be online pioneers, played by Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht. In an addled stupor, they come up with the genius idea to create a website that charges users to watch X-rated content, with Wilson’s Jack Harris the legitimate financier they need to turn their harebrained scheme into a reality.

Of course, the nascent online community is very receptive to the idea of porn, porn, and more porn, but being swamped in money, women, temptation, jealousy, greed, corruption, and crime is bubbling away just under the surface as the mismatched partners start rolling in cash.

Despite largely unenthusiastic reviews from critics and audiences the first time around, Middle Men has come out of nowhere to chart on the iTunes most-watched ranks, as per FlixPatrol, a full 11 years after first being sent out into the big screen wilderness to die a quick death. Head elsewhere if you seek titillation, but aficionados of the crime caper can apply within.


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