The origins of the online porn industry are flashily portrayed in Middle Men, a brisk and frequently amusing flick that bogs down somewhat in the middle before ultimately telling the viewer at the end that they've been wasting their time if they've been thinking they were learning something.
After a pair of drugged-out morons in L.A. develop a method to collect credit card payments for porn, they rapidly start rolling in dough (and drugs) and their lack of business acumen causes the business and their lives to be in danger. In steps clean-cut nice guy fixer Luke Wilson, a Houston family man who is so straight he wears a suit and tie almost all the time. He straightens up the business and comes up with a means to hide the nature of the charges on credit card statements so that wives don't know what smut their hubbies are blowing the grocery money on.
Of course, the good times can last forever, especially when you're dealing with a pair of idiots, a crooked lawyer, and Russian mobsters and the stakes rapidly rise to life-threatening levels. Also, his Luke's Boy Scout nature is tempted by an affair with the only porn star who doesn't do nudity - come on, Hollywood, it's like the starlets who don't take off their bra while having sex; cast actresses who are willing to give up the goods! - and when the Idiot Twins start their own side bunch of sites, the Feds close in.
While Middle Men starts off with a lot of energy it sags in the middle before pulling it together in the end. The performances are good and it's pretty entertaining except none of it is real. While it's advertised as "inspired by true events" a card in the end credits reveals that while it's kinda sorta based on real events, all the characters, names, places and events have been fictionalized or composited from different people; in other words, it's a total work of fiction based on real events, like Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. Way to waste the viewer's time, folks.
Entertaining, but not enlightening, Middle Men is an also-ran for anyone who was genuinely curious as to how the modern Internet was won.
Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.