It”s money, baby, as long as you enjoy recycled characters, an unfortunately familiar plot and P. Diddy: The thespian.
“Made” is the follow-up to the highly successful “Swingers,” which also starred Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, and was also written and directed by Favreau.
“Swingers” won over audiences with its clever catch phrases and foundation in previously unwritten contemporary urban mores. “Made” may come off as a coattail-riding, hackneyed second-effort, yet as it maintains the humor and wit of its first incarnation, it is worthy of a few laughs.
In “Made,” Favreau and Vaughn play best friends Bobby and Ricky. Bobby is in trouble with small-time L.A. gangster/pimp Max (Peter Falk) after getting into a fight with a bachelor for whom his stripper-girlfriend Jessica (Famke Janssen) was working. Because Max seems to like Bobby he gives him and Ricky (after the former hesitantly vouches for the latter) the opportunity to go to New York to work with Ruiz (Sean Combs), another criminal.
Both Bobby and Ricky are boxers, and work whatever jobs they can for Max. While the nave, paranoid, slow-witted Ricky is content with this lifestyle, Bobby is not. He hopes to use the money from the job in New York to pay off Max so that Jessica can quit stripping and they can raise her young daughter.
Once the friends begin their journey to New York, the movie begins not because the plot starts moving, but because Vaughn takes over. Both Vaughn and Favreau play essentially the same character that they did in “Swingers,” which Favreau realized (correctly) would be nothing but successful. Vaughn is again the goofy, loud, self-important yin to Favreau”s quiet, humble yang.
Favreau as a writer has a knack for putting his oddly-paired characters in situations that are awkward and unfamiliar to them. Combs succeeds (albeit barely) as Ruiz, especially in his unending confusion and disappointment in these “two guineas from L.A.”
These characters, and essentially the story, are based on what Mike and Trent (Favreau and Vaughn”s characters from “Swingers”) would be if they left their life of nightclubs and video games for one of crime.
The funniest scene in the movie involves Vaughn asking his first-class stewardess to “round up some honeys from coach” to party in New York with them. Yet while funny on its own, the scene was one of more than a few instances where not only the humor but also the very language of these characters could be easily traced back five years to “Swingers.”
For example, there is a scene where Vaughn leaves Favreau with a girl while he goes into another room with her friend. Another scene takes place in the sort of nightclub you might see in Puff Daddy videos and, well, in “Swingers.” Plus, the license plate of the their limousine is a clever reference to Favreau”s first picture.
But at some point the question is asked: When does something stop being self-referential and is then simply unoriginal?
“Made” walks that thin line, but does it well. It doesn”t matter that it”s a reincarnation of “Swingers” because the former was so good. But Favreau should realize that he won”t be able to get away with this much more. Tarantino was able to make one carbon copy of “Reservoir Dogs,” but not two. Comedic formulas can generally be stretched a little further (think Farrelly brothers), but not forever. Favreau has an ear for clever dialogue and wrote two funny, complementary characters once and then did it again.
“Made” is worth seeing, if for no other reason than you can only watch “Swingers” so many times. But be wary of Favreau”s future endeavors. He is going to have to figure out how to make another movie.