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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Made / Swingers
Made / Swingers
Artisan // R // July 23, 2002
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted August 19, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie: Made

Bobby (John Favreau) is an amateur boxer that is down on his luck and his pal Ricky (Vince Vaughn) is along for the ride. In a deal to make some quick money to pay off a few debts they get mixed up with the mob in a hip, new look at an old plot as soon as Booby "vouches" for him at a meeting.

Director / writer / actor John Favreau has revitalized the gangster drama with the same hip style that first brought attention to him with "Swingers." After a long friendship, the two characters obviously have a different philosophy on life and constantly argue as to where they so go for their next opportunity. After losing the job he had driving his girlfriend (Famke Jansen) because of his temper, he's forced to take on another job for Max (Peter Falk), who unknown to them is a mob boss.

From the start, trouble is bound to happen as Max lays down the rules. Ricky cannot sit still and has trouble following even the simplest of orders. As their on their way, Ricky obviously doesn't know the meaning of low profile and has trouble accepting the fact that on their business trip they must be "on call" at all times. After Ricky's mouth and attitude gets them in trouble in New York things become more personal. Ricky's ideas of big time keep interfering with the simple task they have to do. Things continue to get more and more complicated as Ricky's ideas become more and more eccentric.

Filled with a great cast that includes several members from the Sopranos, Sam Rockwell and many others in small parts. There's never a dull moment as Favreau has crafted another film full of snappy dialog and mixed it into another genre. It's as much an examination of the perception of mob and gang life as it is a mob film. Ricky's ideas all stem from having watched "Goodfellas" one too many times and like "Swingers," it's a film with several pop culture references and a devastatingly real ending.

The Video: Presented in a 1:77.1 anamorphic transfer; the video is generally problem free. The colors are bright and vivid, especially in the nighttime city scenes also display a good level of contrast and depth. There are a few problems of grain and pixelation every so often, but these would generally go unnoticed.

The Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Soundtrack is a basic one with a few bright spots. The dialog is always crisp and easily audible. There are a few instances when the surrounds are used for effects, but these are only a few. The disc does stand out in one of my favorite areas and that is music. As in Swingers, the music is full forced and mixed beautifully between the rears and main speakers. Few directors take time to do this for maximum effect and it's perfect here.

Extras: Where to start on this thing. This disc is loaded and could have easily spread across two discs itself. First up is the 2-way audio commentary. You have the option of listening to Vaughn and Favreau discuss the film and the inside jokes and meanings hidden in it or you can choose to have them illustrate along with you. Similar to football, the duo uses a device that lets them draw upon the screen, pointing out details and playing around from time to time. It's not necessary to understand the commentary and can be turned off, but it's definitely interesting.

There are 3 worthwhile documentaries included on the set as well. "Getting it Made" is the basic making of documentary that goes a little more in-depth as far as before shooting begins information. Favreau, along with "A Christmas Story" kid actor/now producer Peter Billingsley comment on the various meetings with the studio that allowed them to make the film for the price the studio wanted and still have the talent involved that is in the final film. "The Music of Made" is a short that describes the process that Favreau used when selecting songs for the film. As I stated above, I love the music in this film so it was a welcome extra. Lastly, "The Creative Process" deals with the details and thoughts about the characters when writing and filming. It's a shame that the episode of Favreau's IFC series "Dinner for Five" with some of the "Made" cast couldn't be included on this disc as well.

Next up is the "Scene Editing Workshop" feature. I wasn't a fan of this when it first appeared on the MIB DVD years ago and I'm still not sold. It's a neat idea but the technology needs to catch up and them it might appeal to me more. You can assemble a scene and compare it to the final cut. On one hand, it makes it apparent why some scenes are edited the way they are.

There is also an additional mess of footage that's packed in as well. There are outtakes (that are hilariously funny at times) and deleted scenes. Alternate scenes give another look at material in the film and commentary is provided for this and the optional ending that is included on the DVD.

Lastly, there is a selection of music cues on the disc, along with an additional 26 songs that didn't make the final cut of the film. The requisite trailers and script are provided as well as standard cast/crew bios and production notes.

Overall: It's not a perfect modern gangster/mob movie, but it's one of the more well done ones in recent years. Hip and stylish, it's occasionally slow but the characters are so real it's never a distraction. AS in everyday life, everyone is not "on" all the time and it's a refreshing display on the screen that fleshes all the characters out perfectly.

The Movie: Swingers

Favreau made his big-screen writing debut with this old LA styled tale of womanizing and guys hanging out with their friends. Directed by Doug Liman, it broke out a popular inspiration in late 1996 and helped reinvigorate an interest in swing music and all things related to that era.

Mike (John Favreau) is a likeable, but average guy that is still pining over losing his girlfriend months before. Enter his friend Trent (Vince Vaughn) who is on a mission to help Mike forget his ex and pick up a few women on the way. The film follows them through all of the movie-made-trendy hotspots and clubs as Mike pompously pumps up his friend's ego. After a brief encounter, Mike engages in a bit of answering machine phone tag that is a hilarious in its results.

The film is easily the male equivalent of the hit HBO series "Sex in the City" combined with a little bit of retro cool. Full of interesting characters and semi-realistic situations it has a way of reminding everyone of someone in their life that they know. The scene where the group of guys leaves the club and is confronted by another group, only to have their friend pull out an unexpected gun played out as a close friend, much to our groups urging not to, was considering purchasing a gun. His hilariously and ultimately harmless actions in the film had us howling with laughter as we each commented how this person would act exactly the same way. Part of the charm of the film, aside from the snappy dressing and dialog, is the richness of the characters and the history that permeates all of them. The group is one that you'd like to be a part of and that's what makes the film such fun to watch.

The Video: It's a shame they didn't redo the lackluster release that this film received originally. Presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen, the video is clean but has edge-enhancement problems occasionally. The beautiful scenery of LA at night comes across beautifully and the colors look perfect. A proper presentation and formatting would be perfect.

The Audio: The Dolby Surround 2.0 track is serviceable but could have been better. Audio and dialog is easily heard. The films focus on the swing music and LA nightlife culture could have benefited from a nice surround mix comparable to "Made."

Extras: Trailers are included, as well as subtitles, but this are the only things remotely special on the disc.

Overall: It's a perfect film for a guy's night out or a date with your girl. Entertaining and full of snappy banter and quickness, it's never dull. Favreau plays a likeable everyman and shows a talent that had yet to be truly discovered until this film.
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