Friday, July 8, 2011

blahblahblahloves Swingers (1996)

Earlier this week I was drinking a turkish delight mocha at Perth's finest dispensary of coffee, Cabin Fever, taking a much needed break from everything else when my companion for the afternoon made a small age based slip that nearly made my brain explode. She had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned the movie Swingers.

Perhaps being an impressionable teenager in 1996 means it seemed like a bigger event than it was, but there was a time when it seemed like everyone had heard of this movie. But then also that was back in England. I thought this would be a nice excuse to have a little blahblahblah moment about another of my all time faves and a film that i've watched nearly as many times as The Big Lebowski.

For those not in the know Swingers was written by a then unknown Jon Favreau to showcase his friends' talents, it was directed by a similarly unknown Doug Liman back when he was still making quirky films that didn't feature explosions quite a lot of the time and co-starring a really tall skinny guy named Vince Vaughn. He's not very skinny anymore.

These were the only two posters I could find. In an era when photoshop wasn't readiy available I guess indie films had to make do with just a few images and word of mouth buzz. I've always had a soft spot for the orange one which I have seen so many times on my VHS cover and then DVD sleeve to the point where I skip over Swingers on my shelves because I now have the special edition with the black sleeve and I don't recognise it.

I hate cheesy voice overs on trailers. It's painful and they never tell the story as it happens, they shoehorn the movie into their idea of what people want to know and knowing this movie as well as I do this trailer is particularly badly shoehorned.

To synopsisise for you, Mike and Trent are struggling actors (art imitating life,) their friends are struggling actors. They live for the parties and the girls and the distant hope that they'll get a callback. Loosely the story revolves around Trent helping Mike to get over a girl and there's a whole bunch of shenaniganising throughout.

This is film very funny, and the humour comes from the performances of the two leads. Yes it had comedy potential when written but delivered by other actors it would lose it's charm. The cameraderie and obvious affection for each other shines through and provides a strong platform to build great comedic moments off of. The story goes that Spielberg cast Vaughn in Jurassic Park 2 off the back of this film and I think he steals the film with his performance, the success they've both had off the back of Swingers is more than deserved.

The scenarios may be a little enhanced or exaggerated and we may not all be struggling actors but they are still true to the humanity of the situation. That humanity gives this film heart and helps it to stand out from the crowd when it could easily have been just another obnoxious comedy about overgrown boys trying to get laid.

The friendship of Trent and Mike are what makes this film for me. Above the fuckups, the film geek moments, the drama and the one-liners this is about friendship. And I totally identify. I know what it's like to be that guy in the PG-13 movie who hasn't really got a clue, merely treading water and making up the numbers, sitting quietly whilst your R rated buddies take centre stage and completely identify with Mike. Finding yourself amongst all that craziness is no easy business. And who hasn't wished they could behave like Trent in this movie? He's so sure of himself, gets all the women he wants and has the adoration of a group of friends.

There's so much gold contained in this 90 minute film that it's hard to narrow it down to a few points, Mikes answering machine adventure is horrifying and hilarious at the same time, getting caught out lying to a girl in a bar has a similar effect, the homage to Reservoir Dogs and Goodfellas directly after a conversation about how good those movies were is a film geek's wet dream, the reality of a road trip to Vegas, baby, and the conversation that brought it about feels completely true, the harsh light of the bright desert sun stumbling hungover out of a trailer on the side of a highway after a disappointing sexual adventure, is this the real Vegas experience?

All these things stand so vivid in my mind 15 years later and it has clearly influenced so many films that have come and gone since, most notably the recent blockbuster Hangover, so why haven't you all seen it yet?

It's an enjoyable ride and if you don't refer to yourself as money at least once after watching I'll be shocked. Leave some blah below. Film is an art form and art is open to interpretation in any number of ways. The discussion of art and individual interpretation is encouraged around here. And if you enjoy the movie head down to your local independent movie store and buy it, it's only through us actually paying for films that these film makers will get to work again. At least in an ideal world that will be the case. I'm looking at you Uwe Boll.

Swingers (1996) DivX -


  1. I love "Swingers"!

    Good work Toby.

  2. I used to love this film because much of the antics reminded me of my friends and myself at the time. I still enjoy it, but its magic has worn off over the years from watching those two guys play basically the same characters over and over again.

  3. It always astounds me how skinny Vince Vaughn was back in the day. I liked the movie, but I always hated the whole "it's money" line of slang, which is where I think the true legacy of this film comes in... because almost twenty years has passed and people are STILL saying it.

    On a side note... what's Turkish delight other than a type of candy? My only other run-in with the stuff was while reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

  4. bt - i know what you mean about VV (favreau's acting career is certainly less impressive) but all of his recent roles pale in comparison to Trent. I guess it's people like me who just love to watch him do his thing that causes him to keep getting work. wedding crashers for example, i can't help but enjoy. which one were you? the gun wielding vanilla ice type?

    alan - i think it's time you take the phrase back my friend, use the term ironically it will make you feel good. but seriously the fact that people say even now is incredible, especially as they probably have never seen the movie. i bet they didn't even consider this would happen.

    turkish delight is a turkish sweet which is basically a rose flavoured jelly, although the local kebab places have multiple flavours. there is a company in england who market it coated in chocolate but it's pretty far removed from it's traditional origins. you could pretty much say that my coffee was rose flavoured.

  5. Ah, so they use either rose water or some sort of rose-flavored syrup? I lived in Nice for a while, so I'm familiar with (and loved) rose jam, so I bet that would be good. If only I wasn't allergic to coffee then...

  6. pretty sure it's rose syrup, it's kept next to the caramel syrup i think. rose jam sounds incredible. perhaps get a turkish delight hot chocolate, no coffee required (also incredible by the way)

  7. Aw Bless baby VV, ain't he sweet. Shame he sucks the life out of most modern projects!!

  8. custard - which projects are you referring to? he's hardly been in anything recently. all those romcoms sound awful though, not even VV could make jennifer aniston and reese witherspoon watchable.