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Even with a sizable built-in audience and strong critical and audience buzz, Made, the reunion of Swingers stars Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn and the feature directing debut of Favreau, didn't get its fair theatrical shake from its distributor, Artisan. It opened in July on a few theatres in New York and Los Angeles with the promise of a gradual rollout across the country, but given that said rollout never reached beyond 150 or so screens at once, numerous areas in the nation never received the film, leaving many fans to wonder where the hell the film was. Even so, Made was able to cross the indie box office success mark of $5 million, a tribute to the strength of the film. While not as consistently engaging as Swingers, the sterling chemistry between Favreau and Vaughn--here playing construction workers/amateur boxers who get a small-time job for a mobster (Peter Falk)--that fueled their previous collaboration is still very much in evidence here, as is Favreau's ear for smart and memorable comic dialogue. He also does an accomplished job with the directing reins, coaxing effective work from the entire cast (which also includes Faizon Love, Vincent Pastore, Famke Janssen, and a decent Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) and finding the right balance between laughs and drama.
Artisan's half-hearted theatrical release pattern undoubtedly has to do with the fact that their primary concern is the home market, and accordingly the DVD for Made is getting the kind of PR push it never enjoyed during its much too brief run at cinemas, with large ads running in major national magazines such as Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. Indeed, this disc is indeed worthy of such a splashy campaign, for Artisan, Favreau, and DVD producer Alita Renée Holly have done an excellent job assembling a package that includes just about anything a fan of the film could ever want, making an already good movie an even better sit.
Favreau, Vaughn, and co-producer Peter Billingsley are on hand for a feature-length commentary with a twist. There is nothing particularly unusual in what the three say or discuss, which isn't to say there aren't interesting production anecdotes to relate (though one shouldn't expect any dirt on the erstwhile Puffy) or that the Favreau-Vaughn rapport isn't in evidence (though both are a bit lower key than one may expect). The new spin is that it's an "illustrated commentary"--that is, the three use a telestrator to point out certain things in the frame, such as cameos, background props, or the moving scar on Vaughn's forehead. Seeing how un-gimmicky and quite useful such a feature is, it's hard to believe no one ever thought of it before. Of course, the guys aren't above having a little fun with their little toy; during one stretch, Vaughn challenges Favreau to a match of tic-tac-toe, and the considerable number of "fuck"s in one scene are tallied on-screen. For those who prefer more traditional commentaries, an audio-only option is available, but given how a lot of things being said relate to what's being drawn or written, something is lost without the visuals.
Favreau expands on his thoughts on the editing process in the main commentary in the extensive section of deleted and extended scenes, which are viewable with or without his running commentary. As he says in the main commentary, a lot of these bits are interesting and amusing on their own terms but wouldn't have quite worked within the context of the film for a number of reasons, primarily for either pacing or tone balance concerns. Not leaving the viewer out of the fun, there is also a "scene edit workshop" where one can come up with a unique cut of s scene in the film by choosing from various takes and angles.
Insight into the making of the film beyond editing can be found in the three documentary features: "Making the Music of Made," "The Creative Process," and "Getting It Made," which trace the project's evolution from writing to filming to the final cut. This is really one big making-of doc made expressly for the disc, but someone came up with the idea of breaking it up into three separate parts, each ending with the same end credit roll--which points up the one big quibble with this entire package: a certain choppiness in presentation; it would have made more sense to present the doc as a whole with three chapter stops. The outtakes section, including another amusing running "fuck" count, is for the most part funny (if not entirely immune to the "you had to be there" syndrome that plagues all blooper reels to a certain extent), but since a number of these bits are quite short, a "view all" option would have been quite welcome--as it also would have been for the deleted and extended scene sections, and another section showcasing all the musical score cues recorded for the film, whether used or unused.
The usual promo material can also be found among general DVD features: the theatrical teaser and trailer, cast and crew filmographies, production notes. But more awaits those with DVD-ROM drives on their computers: the film's screenplay, which links directly to corresponding scenes, outtakes, and cast biographies. So completes a very comprehensive and highly comprehensive edition that will keep Favreau-Vaughn fans busy for hours, even days--and add to their anticipation for the forthcoming Swingers special DVD edition due out next year.
Specifications: 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; Spanish subtitles; English closed captioning; DVD-ROM features. (Artisan Home Entertainment)
(written November 25, 2001)
Junket Transcripts & Interviews
Made DVD review/©2001 Michael Dequina