One of last year's most tragically ignored films is finally making its way to DVD and Blu-ray. Middle Men is the true story of the guys who changed the Internet forever. No, not the Facebook guys -- the guys who wrote a tiny piece of code that allowed people to buy things safely with a credit card over the Internet and put it toward the one thing they knew could make money: pornography. What followed was more money than they had ever dreamed of -- and trouble that often follows that much money.
Enter Jack Harris (Luke Wilson), a professional troubleshooter who makes a living helping people clean up messes they somehow find themselves in. He reopens clubs, talks people out of getting their legs broken, and somehow always ends up on the winning team without ever getting his hands dirty. Making Jack even more interesting is his interest in always being on the ethical side of every business transaction. But when he comes into contact with two brilliant knuckleheads who stumbled into one of the biggest money-making schemes in history, he runs afoul of trouble unlike anything he's ever encountered. The result is both fascinating and hilarious.
Middle Men is Goodfellas with a much more relatable protagonist. Jack Harris is just a nice guy who loves his family and wants to do right by them, but as he spends more and more time around the scum of the Earth, the lines of what is moral and right become remarkably blurred. He tries with all his heart to navigate murky waters with the best of intentions, but as he gets pulled deeper and deeper into a seedy underworld, he risks losing everything he's ever cared about for the things he cares nothing about at all.
What makes Middle Men work so well isn't just its carefully crafted script and solid direction, but a revolving door of incredible cast members brought in for sometimes just the smallest roles. Luke Wilson and Giovanni Ribisi dominate this film -- there is no doubt about that. But cameos, walk-ons, and small roles by Robert Forster, Terry Crews, James Caan, Kelsey Grammer, Peter Stormare, Kevin Pollack, and Jacinda Barrett all drive this film home, each actor giving a top-notch performance despite the brief screen time offered them.
Easily the most underrated film of last year, Middle Men is a riveting, wonderfully executed film that sadly didn't get any attention at all. The result is a relatively bare-bones DVD with only a few deleted scenes, some outtakes, and a montage of the film's face slaps. While it isn't exactly a package that screams "special edition," it is a film well worth checking out.
Middle Men is available now from Paramount Home Entertainment.