In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “For a movie about small time hoods, playing for small time stakes, Made is a surprisingly great showcase of Favreau’s talents as a director.”
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days. A video shop that was closing down. They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”. I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf. Some were movies I’d seen before. Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble. Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough. So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West. I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.
“At our hotel room we’re gonna have kind of a pool party. California gangster-style, you know what I mean? Kick ass pool party thing.”
In the 90s, two unknown and undiscovered actors named Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau got sick of being unknown and undiscovered, so they went ahead and wrote one of the decade’s defining movies, Swingers. These days, Vaughn bounces from one high profile, shitty looking comedy to another, while Jon Favreau set the tone for what comic movies are today by making the first two Iron Man movies. But in between Swingers and Iron Man, Favreau had to make his bones, prove that Swingers wasn’t a fluke. His first step towards that, was Made.
Amateur boxers by night, construction laborers by day, Bobby (Favreau) and Ricky (Vaughn) are your standard movie pair of male friends. Bobby is conscientious, hard working and reserved, while Ricky is a loud mouthed loser, always looking for the easy way to do whatever job is at hand. When Bobby’s temper gets the better of him and he beats up a customer where his girlfriend works as a stripper, he’s called in to see his boss, and local Los Angeles crime boss, Max (Peter Falk). This is Bobby’s last chance with Max, and he’s given a mysterious job to perform in New York.
Out of guilt and loyalty, Bobby vouches for Ricky and convinces Max to let Ricky in on the job as well. So, they land in New York with cash, a chauffer driven limo at their service, and instructions to wait to be contacted. With no idea of what their job will entail, Bobby nervously waits, while trying to keep Ricky from getting them into trouble. In over their heads, Ricky constantly tries too hard to prove that they’re players, while only ever solidifying the opposite.
For a movie about small time hoods, playing for small time stakes, Made is a surprisingly great showcase of Favreau’s talents as a director and audition for big action like Iron Man. He could have easily got away with filming Made in a simpler, straighter, more static way. Instead, Favreau keeps his camera moving, injecting it into the action and giving every scene, no matter how small, a real, visceral life.
And while Favreau dominates behind the camera, he selflessly gives the juiciest part to Vaughn in front of it. While Bobby is the heart of the story and gets the emotional payoffs in Made, Ricky gets to have all the fun, Ricky gets to deliver all the killer lines, and Ricky gets the big showy moments.
I’m a fan of Favreau in general, and I like Vaughn when he has a role the matches the motor mouthed, smarmy asshole style that seems to be his specialty. I saw Made around the time it came out and remembered liking it. But watching it now, in 2016, with the hindsight of those dudes’ careers in the years since, I really loved it this time around. And while I like Favreau’s Iron Man movies, Made and last year’s Chef make me realise I like his smaller, quirkier movies more.