SWINGERS(director/cinematographer: Doug Liman; screenwriter: Jon Favreau; editor: Teve Mirrione; cast: Jon Favreau (Mike), Vince Vaughn (Trent), Ron Livingston (Rob), Patrick Van Horn (Sue), Alex Desert (Charles), Heather Graham (Lorraine), Deena Martin (Christy), Katherine Kendall (Lisa), Brooke Langton (Nikki); Runtime: 96; Miramax Films; 1996)
“An independent film shot for around $250,000.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An independent film shot for around $250,000 that lacks a cutting-edge, something indie films should not leave home without. It sure looks like a Hollywood studio film to me, but with a little bit of spice thrown in to give it some oomph. It is a story about swingers, which should be a revolting topic and is; nevertheless, there is humor to be found. The boys are out to have some fun, all wrapped up in their libidos, ready to score with the opposite sex. The gang is made up of actors looking for work, who came to Hollywood to be where the action is. The star of the film is the one who wrote the screenplay, Jon Favreau (Mike). He plays this whiny ex-New Yorker, who wants to be a stand-up comedian but is the only one of his swinger friends who is not funny. He is, instead, disconsolate because he left his “honey” 6 months ago to be in la-la land, jump-starting his comic career. He now feels lost without her, finding every other chick he meets to be no match. Unfortunately, we have to hear this whining for most of the film until he acts natural, and bingo something good happens. I must fess up and say, I felt nothing at all for him.
That girls are attracted to the swingers, speaks volumes for how sex and love are intertwined in our culture. And the ‘boys will be boys’ theme is played here till the cows come home, as sex is always foremost on their mind. For Mike, it has to be both sex and love. That he is clearly the winner at the end, gives the film the right perspective it needs as it tries not to fall into its own cool lingo trap.
Preoccupied with himself Mike always thinks he is being sensitive by telling the girls he meets how much he misses his “babe,” so naturally he fails to attract their interest. In contrast the swingers who make up his group roam Las Vegas, the bars of L.A., and the Hollywood party scene with the aim of scoring as many chicks as they can.
Mike’s best pal is Trent (Vince). He sets the tone for the boys pursuit of the good life. But he is caught in his own deceits, vainly thinking he can pick up any girl he wants. He represents the heart and soul of the swingers and also gives the film a comedic tone that at times, as silly as it is, is downright funny. I loved his philosophical advice to Mike, from one swinger to another, advising him that you cannot get a woman to come back to a relationship unless you’re willing to forget about her. It is also riotous to hear the loud mouth Trent call Mike, “money,” every time he wants to cheer his pal up. The other swingers are Rob (Ron Livingston), Sue (Patrick Van Horn), (yes, Sue is a boy), and Charles (Alex Desert). They act to support each other but are looking out for Mike in particular, thinking he desperately needs to get his head together in order to be back with them swinging.
What irked me most was how the filmmakers seemed proud that they ripped off Tarantino’s style of film, claiming everyone rips off everyone else. The problem with that logic is that this film doesn’t look original, it looks and feels like all those other Tarantino clones.
If you have a strong stomach and can take the tartness of the story, you might find it funny enough. This is the way it is for many heterosexuals involved in the singles scene; and it is always hard to change, no pun intended.
REVIEWED ON 2/11/99 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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