Reunited, and it feels so good

Made opens with a boxing match. Our pugilistic pair seem reluctant at first, but work around to smacking each other around for a bit for an eventual tie.

The two fighters in this unofficial sequel to Swingers are played by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, our principals from that other film. Here they play Bobby Ricigliano and Ricky Slade, respectfully. They are different people, but somewhat similar characters, and have a similar love-hate relationship.

These two hold legitimate jobs in L.A. with front businesses for organized crime, but when Bobby goes too far in his position protecting his stripper girlfriend, he takes an offer by his boss Max (Peter Falk) to handle an unspecified exchange in New York City. Reluctantly, he lets Ricky be part of it.

There's something about Ricky. This is the sort of character that can't possibly be played by anybody else. Vaughn's Ricky is someone who can best be described as a smooth-talking, overconfident idiot. Bobby is continually forced into trying to fix the situations that his buddy puts them in. Of course, Ricky never thinks he's getting them into trouble. They end up hurting each other more in the course of this trip than they do during the boxing match.

The tone here is utterly unromanticized. This pair's bickering gets in the way of any cachet that might result from their new position. Favreau says he can't relate to the characters and motivations in Quentin Tarantino's movies, and this film is, in part, his response. While Made is not populated with folk that demand respect from every witicism they utter, as in Tarantino's films, there is a thoughtful perspective in how Bobby enters this new profession, and how he arrives at a surprising new life at the end.

Favreau says the movie is really about the things that happened to him and Vaughn after Swingers became a hit. The scenes of flying first class and being put up in a nice hotel resemble actual experiences they went through. But lifting these scenes away from the world of stardom to the world of crime made for a more dramatic story. I'm rather inclined to agree here - true stories tend to suffer too much from interpretation from both the writer and the audience.

Along our crazy little trip, we run across folk like Vincent Pastore, Faizon Love, and Sean Combs. These folk are largely there as foils to the antics of Bobby and Ricky, but they are full characters with their own interests they are protecting. On a more amusing note, we have a momentary, out-of-nowhere appearance of Dustin Diamond - Screech from Saved by the Bell - as himself.

It's hard not to like a movie that cares so much about its characters, and develops its themes so carefully. I'm sure someone's found a way, but for me, this one's a winner.

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