Who Let the Underdogs Out?

Swingers popularized ballroom dancing, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the adjectival use of money, but scribe-star Jon Favreau's baby was also something of a cult phenomenon unto itself. Though brisk, clever, and not without genuine pathos, the movie was as myopically insular as its L.A. milieu, and for all the guys' angsty talk and manic macking, they only wanted to be around each other—finally, retro-ironists of the '90s had a Husbands to call their own. In Favreau's directorial debut, Made, he goes one better and gets Peter Falk to play his boss.

Bobby (Favreau) is an aspiring boxer (replete with cauliflower ear), a mob lackey, and something of a professional baby-sitter. By day he works construction jobs alongside lazy, disruptive Ricky (Vince Vaughn), his trouble-prone best friend. At night, in a conflict of interest that soon proves problematic, he bodyguards his stripper girlfriend (Famke Janssen). After bruising one of her overeager lap-providers, Bobby is dispatched by crusty don Max (Falk, doing a fine William Hickey impression) to New York for a "delivery." Honor-bound by the codes of brotherhood, Bobby brings useless Ricky along for the ride. ("He's done a lot for me, when I was younger.") The scenario is familiar: Favreau is the soft touch done wrong by his barely glimpsed woman, Vaughn the loutish yet charming opportunist; only the caretaker role has been switched.

After dropping Gothamites in L.A. for Swingers, Favreau turns the tables for a Fodor's guide to NYC: The boys hit Spa, Luna, and Tavern on the Green in their pursuit of skittish gangster Ruiz (game Sean Combs, starting his publicity tour for The Saga Continues). The checklist of local color is evident, but the movie looks wan and murky; though Made is all combative talk, the pugilists tend to be stranded in medium shot with no opponents in sight. (Doug Liman, who both shot and directed Swingers, is missed; the cinematographer here, strangely enough, is Wong Kar-wai regular Christopher Doyle.) Handheld sprinting and swish-pans try to enliven the duo's shenanigans: undermotivated fisticuffs, fun with the nutty controls on their limousine (the roof slides open!), Vaughn's endless yapping. Not content to remake his first script as a fish-out-of-water mob comedy, Favreau then adds on a bathetic, altogether unforeshadowed coda involving an endangered child. The boys'-clubhouse rules of ethics and loyalty are duly reiterated, and the most memorable image in Made is also the most shameless: a crayon box spilled next to an overflowing ashtray.

The saga continues: Vaughn and Favreau in Made.
photo: Artisan
The saga continues: Vaughn and Favreau in Made.

Details

Made
Written and directed by Jon Favreau
Artisan Opens July 13

Legally Blonde
Directed by Robert Luketic
Written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith
MGM Opens July 13

Pandaemonium
Directed by Julien Temple
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
USA
Village East Opens July 13

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