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The Prime Gig
2000 - R - 98 Mins.
Director: Gregory Mosher
Producer: Gina Mingacci, Elliot Lewis Rosenblatt, Cary Woods
Written By: William Wheeler
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Ed Harris, Julia Ormond
Review by: David Rolston
The Prime Gig fits squarely in the canon of films which explore the moral ambiguity of salesmanship. Despite its straight to video legacy, the production values, cast and plot complexity compare favorably to the majority of dramatic theatrical releases from the majors. The Prime Gig will be of interest to anyone who has enjoyed the films or plays of David Mamet, Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street”, the Alvin Sargent penned “Other People’s money” or the Giovani Ribisi vehicle “Boiler Room” which was released in the same year as The Prime Gig.

Vince Vaughn plays Pendelton ‘Penny’ Wise, a born smooth-talker who manages to eek out a living at a number of fly by night telemarketing operations. It’s not easy going, since the employers are as prone to rip off the telemarketers as the telemarketers are to rip off the customers. Wise dreams of a high stakes operation, and yet at the same time is suspicious when the opportunity falls in his lap in the form of Caitlin Carlson (Julia Ormond) bearing an invitation to work for Kelly Grant (Ed Harris). Grant is a legendary and somewhat infamous operator with a reputation for having made large amounts of money in the past, but who was also convicted of fraud and has only recently gotten out of jail.

Although it seems hard to imagine, the very existence of telemarketing indicates that it must be profitable, and The Prime Gig does a serviceable job at prying the lid off this much maligned industry and the people who make it their profession. Vaughn’s shop-worn gregarious streetwise persona is well suited to the character of Wise, a deeply cynical individual more than capable of telling people what they need to hear in order to make a sale. It’s not hard to imagine that Vaughn, had he not been an actor, would have done well in the world of sales. Vaughn brings likability to the familiar world-weary Wise, a man who has had to struggle all his life and who's rough edges have kept him just to the periphery of the middle class. He knows deep down that the world is rotten, but in spite of himself just can’t help clinging to the faint glimmer of hope that legitimacy is still within his grasp if he can just get a break.

Ed Harris is at his enigmatic best as Kelly Grant, the visionary leader of a high stakes investment operation, who seduces Wise into joining the endeavor, and then proceeds to alienate him through the systematic mistreatment of Grant's long suffering protege Carlson, a combination disciple, go between, employee and girlfriend.

The Prime Gig does as good a job as any film has in depicting how Sales people attempt to break down a prospect's resistance, using arm chair psychology and exploiting their subconscious desires and needs.

It also digs deeper, exploring a number of profound questions about ego, identity and the human need for love, approval and connectedness. The Prime Gig also manages to weave a convincing tale of intrigue and romance, and ends on a thought provoking note that will have you revisiting the plot later.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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