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The Prime Gig Reviews

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS meets BOILER ROOM in this story of a silver-tongued telemarketer who dreams of a "prime gig" and learns, in time honored fashion, that it pays to be careful of what you wish for. Pendleton "Penny" Wise (Vince Vaughn) is in a spot. The storefront operation from which he's been peddling fake vacation packages has just gone belly-up, and he's supporting not only himself, but his handicapped friend Joel (Rory Cochrane). And on top of it all, Penny has a conscience; not much of a conscience, to be sure, but any conscience is a liability in a con game. Salvation appears in the form of Caitlin Carlson (Julia Ormond), who offers Penny a job shilling for her boyfriend, fabled "room-runner" Kelly Grant (Ed Harris). Grant's phone scams are the stuff of legend but this time Grant, who's fresh out of jail on an insider-trading rap, swears the job is on the up-and-up. He's got a mine guaranteed to produce millions: Penny and the rest of the phone-sales force just have to sweet-talk investors out of the $2,000,000 that will get all that wealth out of the ground. Penny has his doubts, even after seeing the mine; he signs on but insists on being paid daily, in cash, while the other salesmen agree to take checks when the $2 million is in the bank. And then they go to work, cold calling potential investors and using any means necessary to separate them from their money. Penny's suspicions that it's all too good to be true intensify when Caitlin makes a play for him, confiding that she and Grant have split up but maintain the facade of being a couple for the sake of the project. But Penny thinks he's hedged all his bets and has the situation under control. Screenwriter Wheeler once worked as a telemarketer, and the details of the business are fascinating, if familiar, to anyone who's seen BOILER ROOM or GLENGARY GLENN ROSS. It's clear that someone's going to get taken, as is the identity of the designated loser in this triangle. But Wheeler and theater director Gregory Mosher (making his movie debut) skillfully keep you wondering until the end exactly how the inevitable resolution will come about, and good performances help keep the familiar material interesting. Though scheduled for a 2001 theatrical release by Fine Line Features, The Prime Gig wound up going direct to video.