The Prime Gig (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Filmed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, starring Vince Vaughn, Ed Harris and Julia Ormond, this was obviously intended to be a theatrical release, but it was abandoned by its studio after some film festival appearances.


Vince plays the world's greatest hard-sell telemarketer, and Harris plays the guy who creates the telemarketing schemes. In this case, Harris has "found" a gold mine, with an assessment of 30 million dollars in value from the precious metals specialists. He wants the telemarketers to raise $2.5 million dollars from independent investors so he can mine the minerals. According to his spiel, he is completely legit, the gold mine is real, the deal is a win-win for everyone, including the investors. Vaughn doesn't really believe in the gold mine, and agrees to work only if Harris will pay his commissions daily, in cash.

What you may not realize, or at least may not have at the top of your consciousness, is that the telemarketers who are scamming you are also being scammed in turn. If the deal is too sour, their checks may bounce, and they may never earn the commissions on what they sell you. Just before the Harris deal, Vaughn himself was ripped off by a just such a sleazebag.

In a subplot which seems irrelevant until the very end, Vaughn has an affair with Harris's girlfriend, played by Julia Ormond.

I had mixed feelings about the film. After the first 85 minutes, I was thinking that it should have been a theatrical release, and was preparing to write a glowing review. It was exciting. It had the feel of reality, but was still entertaining. It included cynical Mamet-like dialogue. The characters were reasonably interesting, and the performers were quite good. The director is the guy who directed Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway, so he was on his home turf, so to speak. Ed Harris is one of the best in the business. And it seemed to have a pretty good sting waiting for us at the end.


Julia Ormond showed her breasts while on her back in a sex scene.

And then everything went sour. They just didn't know how to end it. We viewers knew all along there had to be a bigger scam that what we were watching, because that is why we watch these movies, to see the real sting revealed. We knew that Harris' gold mine was probably not real, but the film promises a beauty of a ruse hiding in the wings. They can't be spending all this money and time for a crummy two and a half million dollars, can they? Harris must have blown several hundred thousand in perks and amenities for his office alone. So what was the BIG sting?

There was none.

Of course, Harris pulled up stakes and shorted his salesmen out of their commissions, and kept the entire $2.5 million except for the commissions he had paid Vaughn. We knew that was going to happen. The only remaining detail was miniscule. In the course of their affair, Ormond had told Vaughn that she needed an American husband to get a green card. As soon as they got married, she used her marriage certificate to clean out his bank account and took back all the commissions that he had been paid in cash. Big hairy deal! She had an affair with, then married the guy for a crummy $78,000! That was it. Damn, at least they could have figured out a way to hang Vaughn with the police rap for the entire scam or something, but no-o-o-o-o-o. They just had to get the last stinkin' penny of that $78,000. Scamming $2,422,000 just wasn't enough. What's that all about?

Then, as if that ending weren't lame enough, they dragged the thing on for several more minutes. Vaughn went home to his apartment, said hi to his handicapped roommate, left his remaining money behind for the roommate, and symbolically walked away from his old life. He heard the ever-dreaded inner voices repeating words from previous scenes. (For example, he remembered a sweet old lady saying, "I trust you, Vince", as he took her life savings for the gold mine.) Then he walked out into the street, his back to the camera, and the credits started to roll.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

At this point, I'm thinking. "Did I miss something", and rewinding to play it again. Nope. That was it. Inner voices, walking alone down the street, credits.

And there you see why this movie was a might-have-been instead of a genuinely excellent film. On the other hand, it has some excellent pacing, Julia Ormond topless, and is generally entertaining for most of the film. For example, I enjoyed it more than the highly-touted and very similar film, Boiler Room. I think of this film as very good sex with no climax: hard to tell when it ends, lacking an essential ingredient, but pleasurable while it lasts.

Tuna's Thoughts

I agree that it was a near miss, but for a different reason. Scoop found the ending very weak, spoiling the film for him. I had no trouble with the hero walking into the sunset, knowing he had been royally screwed, both literally and figuratively, and trying to sort out whether to give up, or to stay in the game, this time a little wiser. Three things bothered me a lot.
  • First, they had a great comedy cast lead by George Wendt, and they dropped them from the story after the first ten minutes.
  • Second, they spent entirely too much time on a romantic relationship with Julia Ormond, and not enough on the telemarketing scams.
  • Third, they introduced a relationship for no reason that I could figure out between Vince Vaughn and a crippled friend.

Ormond's breast exposure was brief, and in very poor light. The good news is that some of the photography was absolutely outstanding. Be sure to view images 5 and 6, even though they have no exposure. The head shots are good, and the top scenes are amazing. I will give this a C+.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 6.5 of 10


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C or C+. Such promise - largely unfulfilled.

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