Swingers was one of those movies that I wound up seeing more than a dozen times because the pay-cable channels just loved showing it. Now, they love showing lots of movies, and I don’t constantly tune in for them. But Swingers was funny, and I enjoyed the inside film jokes, as well as the obvious ones.
As I was searching for a DVD the other night — under a mandate from my wife to find a movie she would like — I came across Made. I had heard about the film, but never got an opportunity to see it in the theaters. So, I grabbed a copy and brought it home (along with a copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary for the Mrs.)
I’ve found Jon Favreau to be a fine actor, and pretty funny in most of the roles I’ve seen him in — he was one of the highlights in The Replacements. In Made, Favreau re-teamed with his Swingers buddy, Vince Vaughn, he is in top form — if not taking on a slightly familiar role.
Made tells the story of two not-to bright guys from Los Angeles. Struggling as a boxer who works as a bodyguard to his stripper girlfriend, Bobby (Favreau) tries to move up in the criminal world by travelling to New York for his boss, Max, played by Peter Falk.
Hoping to take care of his loud-mouth, paranoid friend, Ricky (Vaughn), he convinces his boss to allow him to tag along. The two then set about one misadventure after another when they arrive in New York City to help a local gangster (P. Diddy) work a deal with a Scotsman with a penchant for beer and coke.
There are a lot of laughs in this film, as well as some tense moments and strong dramatic scenes. Well written, well acted, I enjoyed it immensely.
Having said that, I did have a few problems with it. First and foremost was the editing, which at times felt forced and jarring. It wasn’t MTV, headache-inducing, but some of the cuts were inappropriate and misplace, pulling your attention from the story to remind you that you’re watching a film.
There are also a few lighting errors, such as when the two are seated on the plane heading for NYC. A light on Favreau’s should slightly washes out the right side of the shot. Plus, some of the framing in certain scenes were questionable, but not stick out in my head as particularly offensive.
The dialogue is fun and lively, just like Swingers, which may be a result of the open improv Favreau encouraged on set.
The DVD offers a lot of extras, chiefly several deleted scenes — many of which would not have been missed — and “alternate takes” which allows the viewer to watch how the movie could have been (these are the result of the improv most of the actors took part in during each scene).
There are also a large selection of outtakes which are very funny, even though most consist of Favreau or Vaughn unable to keep a straight face.
The audio commentary, featuring Favreau, Vaughn and co-producer Peter Billingsly (remember little Ralphie from A Christmas Story?), is terrific. Favreau offers insights into the filmmaking process, as well as behind-the-scenes highlights. Vaughn also discusses the process of making the film, as well as writing the script and improving the scenes. By far, one of the most interesting commentaries I’ve heard, not only for the detail, but for the honesty.
Three “featurettes” also accompany the film offering a few into the making of the film. These were well done, and proved more insightful than most docs added to DVDs.
They were especially good compared to the STUPID and EMPTY HBO behind the scenes documentaries, which are nothing more than promotional pieces that are filled with people saying how wonderful and brilliant (insert name here) is, and how they are such a joy to work with—however some people do gush a bit over Favreau, which bordered on annoying but came in just under the “acceptable” wire.