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The nineties has brought many movies dealing with the relationships between men and women. Instead of being romantic comedies, they are psychological examinations filled with Tarantino-esque hip dialogue. Some of these movies didn't hit the mark, but many are among the best movies of the decade. Swingers stands out as a classic.
Screenwriter Jon Favreau plays Michael, a down-on-his-luck actor/comedian who left New York for the fame and fortune of Tinseltown. According to Michael, "they made it sound as if they were handing out sit-coms to comedians at the airport." He's had some small roles, and hosts open mic night at a local comedy club, but Michael doesn't feel successful, because he had to break up with his girlfriend of six years when he came to Los Angeles. He still loves her, and let's everyone know it. Michael is slowly driving his friends crazy with his need to talk about her all the time.
His friends want to help him move on, especially Trent (Vince Vaughn) who takes him on a wild, hilarious trip to Las Vegas. Trent's a player with his hyperactive speech pattern and charismatic ways. Women flock to him and, when he's around, fun is not far away. Trent's a good friend trying everything he can to give Michael confidence in himself. Trent, Michael and company regularly cruise the Los Angeles nightlife in search of beautiful women hoping to get Michael out of the doldrums.
After a series of disasters and near misses, Michael finally finds the courage to get a woman's phone number. Will he blow it?
Swingers is one of the funniest, best written movies around. My friends and I find ourselves constantly quoting dialogue from the movie and watching it several times a year. Favreau brilliantly satirizes the dating scene. He exposes it for all it shallowness and mocks its "rules".
The movie also is a great send up of Hollywood. The characters struggle to get bit parts and commiserate with each other by sharing their tales of whoa. Each one wants to be a big star, but they have to take other odd jobs to get by. By far, the best tale is Rob's (Ron Livingston) struggles with Disneyland and the opinions each person has about which theme park character is the best to portray.
Each character also tries to be Mr. Cool. One of the most entertaining parts of the movie is watching each of these vulnerable, clumsy guys try to be slick and smooth, while lacking the confidence to do so.
Vince Vaughn is the star of the movie. While Favreau is the lead, Vaughn has the most memorable performance. He is full of charisma and lights up the screen whenever he is in the scene. It takes great stamina to maintain such an energetic performance and he does it well. Unfortunately, Vaughn has not found a role since that can take advantage of his comedic ability. He has been trying to establish himself as a leading man, but might be well served to take a secondary role in a major movie to showcase his ability and attract better scripts.
Jon Favreau is very good as the comedian who never laughs. He is supposed to make his living as a funny man, but his character constantly mopes around and feels sorry for himself. Favreau is an engaging character, the friend we all want to see do well. As Vaughn's character points out, Favreau is "the guy in the PG-13 movie that we really hope makes it." Like Vaughn, Favreau has not gone on to other roles that showcase his ability. He had a stint on NBC's Friends and appeared in Showtime's Rocky Marciano biography, but he might need to write another movie for himself.
Another wonderful ingredient in this movie is the music. Swingers was made just as swing music was starting its resurgence and nicely captures the Los Angeles retro scene. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy contributes a few songs to the soundtrack, while the rest is filled out by classic music from Dean Martin and others. I don't normally buy movie soundtracks, but this one is good addition to the CD collection.
Instead of subjecting yourself to the bar scene this weekend, get your friends together and rent Swingers.
Writer: Jon Favreau
Director: Doug Liman
Jon Favreau Michael
Vince Vaughn .. Trent
Heather Graham .. Lorraine
Ron Livingston . Rob
Patrick Van Horn . Sue
Alex Desert ..Charles
Brooke Langton Nikki
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