From swingers to sluggers 

Winning comedy Made by Swingers team

Something happens when Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau get together. Separately, they're a pair of adequate actors whose ability often falls short of their ambitions, their work as leading men offering such easily forgotten fare as The Cell or Love and Sex.

But together, they make a winning comic duo, like a modern Hope and Crosby or Martin and Lewis, only with far more f-words. They both broke through with the 1996 comedy Swingers, which proved a sleeper hit thanks in part to lucky timing with the swing music craze, as well as the staying power of annoyingly catchy slang like "You are so money!"

Favreau himself penned the screenplay for Swingers and now, having written and directed Made, proves that the prior film's strengths were neither a fluke nor solely the work of director Doug Liman. Though not a sequel to Swingers, Made provides the same comic teamwork, with Favreau playing low-key straight man to Vaughn's hyper would-be hipster, in the service of a tighter, snappier story.

The film begins in Los Angeles with a half-serious tone that fakes you out, only hinting at the humor to come. Favreau plays Bobby, an aspiring boxer with a so-so record who earns a living as a mason and driver for his stripper girlfriend Jess (Famke Janssen). Plus, he has nearly a full-time job watching out for his childhood buddy Ricky (Vaughn), a sparring partner and motor-mouth who can't stay out of trouble. Their friendship seems inspired by the Mean Streets dynamic of responsible Harvey Kietel and erratic Robert De Niro.

Both Bobby and Ricky find themselves in hot water with aging mobster Max (Peter Falk); Bobby for slugging one of his stripper-girlfriend's overenthusiastic clients, Ricky for somehow misplacing a carpet cleaning van. A deceptively avuncular presence, Max has a soft spot for Bobby and gives him and Ricky a chance to redeem themselves by doing a piece of real business for the mob. They must go to New York and represent Max's organization on a mysterious "drop," with details to follow.

From the moment Max briefs Bobby and Ricky on their assignment, Made sets a taut but nimble comic tone. The film brings freshness to mob clichés in part through Ricky's cluelessness

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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

    • on June 29, 2016
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