Review Rewind: ‘Swingers’

The Movie: “Swingers”

The Year: 1996

The People: Jon Favreau as the recent dumpee Mike; Vince Vaughn as the womanizing Trent; Ron Livingston as Mike’s go-to friend for therapeutic relief, Rob; Patrick Van Horn as the easily angered Sue; and Heather Graham as the beautiful woman Mike meets at the end of the film, Lorraine.

The Non-Revealing Plot: Small-time comedian Mike is living in Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a successful actor. He spends his nights (and some of his days) cooped up in his shoddy apartment reminiscing about his recently-ended relationship with his ex, Michelle, who’s living in New York. Mike’s friends try to cheer him up by taking him to Las Vegas and various nightlife destinations in Los Angeles, with the ultimate goal being to get their friend to forget his ex and move on to a new romantic interest. The entirety of the film consists of Mike grappling with post-breakup sadness and longing while simultaneously trying to start anew, with more failures than successes.

Unofficial Genre: This film is a dramedy, with the two genres present in equal abundance.

My Opinion (Emotional): This film did a good job of creating real and relatable characters. Mike always felt like a genuine character (save for one voice-message-involving scene that was quite cartoonish and off-putting), whereas Trent, for most of the film, serves merely as a Tyler Durden-type character. Trent gives Mike advice, but when Mike fails to adhere, Trent shows him the correct way to do it. That being said, the film doesn’t treat any one of its main characters as all-knowing beings who offer perfect advice and make perfect choices. There’s a scene towards the end where even the boisterous and confident Trent is humbled by the realization that he mistakenly believed he had caught the eye of a woman a few tables down. In reality, she was waving and responding to her baby who Trent couldn’t see until she picked the baby up. The whole movie we see Trent as this suave, successful guy, but the movie adds this scene to demonstrate that even though someone is admired, they are able to fail. That’s what impressed me about this movie and helped me emotionally connect well to the characters — they were clearly people striving to be the best that they could, and the movie did not unrealistically portray them as perfect.

My Opinion (Technical): Aside from the last two scenes of the movie, which were extremely impressive for their dialogue and acting, the technical aspects of this film were somewhat disappointing. This film was made with a miniscule budget of $200,000, so the low-stakes settings and storyline made sense and were adequately executed. However, I’m not a fan of montage shots of settings in movies, and there were quite a few of them. Not including two shots that were tongue-in-cheek references to famous shots from “Goodfellas” (1990) and “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), the camerawork was uninteresting and sometimes just poor.

Overall Rating: For its good characters, great final scenes, boring storyline and bad visual aspects, I’d give this film a 6.8/10.

If You Like This, You’ll Also Like…: “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) and “I Love You, Man” (2009).