Middle Man: Comedy can be Killer

Jim O'Heir in Middle Man. Photo credit: Skott Snider Photography.

Parks and Recreation alumnus Jim O’Heir displays his range in the indie film, Middle Man, due out in select theaters this weekend.

Written and directed by Ned Crowley, Middle Man stars O’Heir, Andrew J. West, Josh McDermitt, Anne Dudek, and Tracey Walter.

Everybody who is anybody has a dream of being famous.  For Lenny Freeman, he wants to be a stand-up comedian even though he’s simply not funny.  After his mom dies, he heads out for Las Vegas to make those dreams come true.  It doesn’t pan out that way after he pulls off the highway to refill an empty gas tank.  As soon as he picks up Hitch (West), his entire plan gets thrown off wack.  After performing at an open mike night, Lenny wakes up the next morning to find a dead person in the trunk.  As Lenny soon finds out, Hitch is psychotic.  Even though the carnage improves his comedic performances, Lenny would rather get to Vegas.

Hitch isn’t even the one making the bad decisions here.  Lenny is making the horrible choices for himself.  Unfortunately for Lenny, he can’t get out of his contract with Hitch.  He has every opportunity to walk away from Hitch but it just blows up in his face when all is said and done, right down to the final frame of the film before the credits start rolling.

Middle Man, inspired by what people call the middle act of a stand-up comedy show, doesn’t straight out go for the jokes, aside from during the stand-up sets.  The chemistry between O’Heir and West shows on screen.  It’s not the laugh-out-loud comedy that you would expect on a sitcom or in a Paul Feig, Adam McKay, or Judd Apatow movie.

Crowley wrote this film with O’Heir in mind after seeing him play a large majority of roles but wanted to see him in a role in which he could really act.  That’s what he does in Middle Man.  He acts.  He’s not the butt of a joke like his character in Parks and Recreation.

For writer-director Crowley, who is shocked at what folks are doing in order to get their fifteen minutes, the idea was to make a modern-day “road picture” similar to that of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin or Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.  Unlike the olden days of comedy, things are different now.  As Crowley describes it, the genre is more caustic, harsh, angry and aggressive.”  Of course, Crowley was inspired by comedian Fatty Arbuckle, who was quoted as saying “no price is too high to pay for a good laugh.”

Middle Man will open in select theaters on Friday, June 9, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and Atlanta.  On September 8th, the film will be available on demand through Vubiquity, Amazon, Itunes, Google, Vudu, Comcast X Finity, Sony, and Xbox.  Netflix will start streaming the film a month later on October 8th.

Stay tuned for interviews this week with Jim O’Heir and Josh McDermitt!

mm_trailer-90-24fps from ned on Vimeo.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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