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A couple of the best films in history surround stock-broking and sales. I’m talking Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross specifically, though you might have your own opinions about their worth. On the surface watching a bunch of salespeople verbally barrage an unsuspecting potential “lead” doesn’t seem all that appealing, but with just the right mix of testosterone, profanity, good dialogue and an intriguing story you could end up with a film that is among the best. Done correctly, the world of the shrewd salesman becomes a whole lot more attractive (and interesting) than it actually is. Done poorly, however, and it just looks like a pretentious piece of tripe trying to ride on the back of the better “salesman” films that preceded it.

So which category does The Prime Gig fit into? Well, at times it fits into both, making it a tough call when it comes to assessing its worth. As a straight to video release, however, you could do a lot worse than this one.

Prime Gig, The
Movie
The film surrounds Pendleton Wise (Vince Vaughn), who is mercifully called Penny by those around him in spite of his parents lack of taste when naming their child. Penny has a real mouth on him, so what better way to use it than to sell people junk they don’t need. He works in a local call centre for very little money even though he’s very good at his job. The call centre itself is on the brink of folding and Penny knows it. He also looks after a disabled mate Joel (Rory Cochrane still sitting in the underrated category), who is trying to learn the ropes of the sales business but couldn’t really care less about any of it, putting more strain on poor Penny.

Then in walks Caitlin (Julia Ormond), first posing as a district attorney threatening to shut his workplace down for various breaches of code. The rouse goes on a short while before Caitlin reveals to Penny that she is in fact working for a man named Kelly Grant (Ed Harris, but more importantly, what is it with these girls names?). Caitlin mentions to Penny that the little stunt she pulled was merely an interview to see if he could cut it working as a salesman for Kelly. Naturally, Penny accepts the offer and is rushed to a briefing about what the team will be selling and why.

The “sell” is a block of land which is apparently hiding $30 million worth of gold. They need investments over $2 million to be able to dig it out. Don’t ask why, because that’s just not how it works. Kelly seems legitimate in his claims despite the motley bunch of salespeople’s skepticism. It is revealed by Kelly that he spent time in jail for insider trading, a nod to his character in Glengarry Glen Ross one would think. And because the film acknowledges a finer film about, fundamentally, tele-marketing, you can be sure it knows its place as a small-time straight to video piece of entertainment.

One the whole the story is interesting enough, especially as Penny runs off the rails and has a bit of a fling with Caitlin. Vince Vaughn is perfect and has the mouth to match, similar to his boisterous characters from the past. Ed Harris again plays the salesman to a tea, though it’s obvious he knows David Mamet wasn’t involved in this one, unlike Glengarry. Julia Ormond as Caitlin is serviceable, making a low-key return to the big screen since 1995’s First Knight.

Prime Gig, The
There is definitely nothing spectacular about the story at all but the cast makes this slightly above your average fare. The relationships that develop over the course of the modest 93 minute running time are interesting enough to keep you guessing and the finale doesn’t go for the overdone “twist” which seems to have become the norm of late. Don’t expect too much and you might be surprised at the entertainment value in this film. For a more accomplished look at salespeople, however, you can’t go past the classics.

Video
The 2.35:1, 16:9 enhanced transfer on the disc comes up a treat. The print is exceptionally clean, which is not always guaranteed with your lower budget, straight to DVD releases. The colours are great, particularly those in the call centre and the panoramic views of the skyline. Aliasing creeps in every now and then but it’s nothing too distracting, and the grain is minimised to a few scenes here and there. On the whole the folks from Roadshow have done it again, giving us another fine transfer free from anything that will distract us from the story.

Audio
Sales is all talk. And so is this Dolby Digital 5.1 track for the most part. Aside from a few music tracks here and there the dialogue dominates the film and the soundtrack. Everything is clear at all times and matched well with the volume of the more intense moments such as the helicopter sequence early on. Surround use is minimal but effective when used and the subwoofer will have the night off. Considering what there is to work with you couldn’t really complain about the mix on this disc.

Extras
All we get is the theatrical trailer thrown in, which is a shame because I would have liked to have heard from Director Gregory Mosher in a commentary track. Sadly, the trailer is the only thing on offer.

Prime Gig, The
Overall
A surprisingly good film carried on the backs of Vince Vaughn and Ed Harris. The story is quite interesting though not in the same league as some of the other films mentioned. The video transfer is another winner while the audio does its best with what’s available. No meaningful extras suggest you might want to either rent the disc or find it cheap somewhere but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re expectations aren’t too high.


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