Made

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Made

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By far, the weakest moments in Swingers—an otherwise winning and observant indie comedy from writer-star Jon Favreau—are the ill-conceived tributes to Goodfellas and Reservoir Dogs, the favored gangster films of a loose collective of would-be hipsters. More than just cheap and clumsily executed pop-culture references, these sequences pile fantasy on top of fantasy, tacking multiple exclamation marks onto Favreau's otherwise heartfelt and obviously personal story about the everyday delusions of Hollywood fringe-dwellers. Now that he and Vince Vaughn, his charismatic friend and co-star, have become huge success stories, they have no reason to return to Swingers, having moved beyond that phase in their lives. But they take another trip to the well in Made, Favreau's slack and uninspired directorial debut, which basically rehashes their dynamic and stretches the lame gangster fantasies to feature length. Favreau again plays the neurotic foil to Vaughn's brash, teasing, infantile screw-up, this time as a no-talent boxer (his record is 5-5-1) with foolhardy dreams of staking his livelihood in the sport. In the meantime, Favreau moonlights as a jealous bodyguard to stripper girlfriend Famke Janssen and works on a construction crew run by Peter Falk, a local mob kingpin. When Falk recruits him for a simple drop in New York, Favreau insists on partnering with best friend Vaughn, a well-meaning but inept troublemaker whose excitement about the gangster lifestyle puts the mission in jeopardy. As Falk's short-fused New York business associate, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has fun sending up his hardened persona, but isn't given much else to do. Fleshing out the barest of plots with heavy improvisation, Made looks as if it's been haphazardly cobbled together from other Favreau projects. The 10 percent of the material that wasn't blatantly pillaged from Swingers still isn't especially original: There's little difference between Favreau's inauspicious boxing career and his brief stint on Friends as a millionaire in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and his chemistry with Janssen was already established in the forgettable romantic comedy Love & Sex. Favreau and Vaughn play off each other well, stumbling upon a few funny exchanges together. But even at its best, Made is a pale imitation of Swingers, and not nearly as honest or affecting in its macho camaraderie. Only two films into his screenwriting career, Favreau already seems to have run out of ideas.

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