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The guys who bought us the independent hit Swingers are back again. This time they are playing two small time boxers, Ricky and Bobby whose careers are going nowhere. Bobby is involved with a woman Jess, who is a single mother. She earns a living by being a stripper at bachelor parties while Bobby earns money being her bodyguard. Despite his urges for her to quit the job, she says she has to keep it to give her daughter a better life than she had. When one of her customers crosses a line Bobby punches him out and ends up costing their boss Max about eight grand in dental work. Max decides to send Bobby along with his friend Ricky to broker a money laundering deal in New York City. This way they can both pay off the debts that they owe Max.

I was a big fan of Swingers when I first saw it and I was impressed with the cast and their ability to improvise scenes. When I heard that the same cast would be making a mob film, I thought I would be in for a good crime story with sharp writing and a lot of great one liners. What I got was the characters from Swingers in a mob comedy that was somewhat distracting to the story. John Favreau's character is a bit different from his Swingers role but Vince Vaughn is an almost exact carbon copy of Trent. He had the same mannerisms, the same rapid-fire speech pattern and the same jokes. The rest of the cast fares a bit better. Peter Falk is good as a lovable (or so you think) old time hood. Vincent Pastore is very funny as the New York Chauffeur. There are about three or four other familiar faces from the Sopranos in the film as well. There is one cast member just does not belong in this film. Puff Daddy, or is he called P Diddy now? Puff plays Ruiz. The New York hood that will introduce Bobby and Ricky to the man they are supposed to do business with. Well, after seeing his performance in this film I have a few new nicknames for Puffy to try out. Can't Actie or Acts Sucky or Makes Me Cringe. This is a role that someone like Don Cheedle would have sunk his teeth into and torn up but instead, gets wasted on Puff because he is famous.
Unfortunately, bad characters and poor casting decisions cannot be held totally responsible for this film. The story suffers from two things that many independent films suffer from. Some of the characters are uneven. The character of Jess is willing to endure being felt up at bachelor parties to support her daughter at the beginning of the film. Yet she makes a decision at the end of the film that makes no sense to me what so ever. Also there are way too many over talked scenes that feel like they have been thrown in to get some great lines in the film but don't really advance the story. Did the Penguin House scene really need to be half as long as it was?

I wanted to like this film a lot and I am kind of bummed that I didn't. It did make me laugh and there were some funny scenes, but when they were added all together they didn't add up. On a scale of one to ten, I will give Made a five. It wasn't money!

Paul Ferris

Wheel Deal Review

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