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Superb real-world comedy that balances heart, laughs, and buddy comedy in equal measures.

  • Aug 17, 2012
***1/2 out of ****

Aspiring celebrities and golfers by day and passionate nighthawks by dark; the characters of Doug Liman's "Swingers" are perhaps the definitive male film personalities for this generation in particular. They embody the desire and all the fun of their era, although it's confusing to which one they belong. In 1996 when the film was released, America was experiencing a sort of swing revival and so the film immerses itself in this cultural comeback. But this is clearly not the 1960's, so are the boys a part of Generation X? Regardless of what generation they belong to, they walk the walk and talk the talk. There's Mike (Jon Favreau), a comedian struggling to get a gig and to get over a recent break-up (he and the girl were together for six years. Then his buddy Trent (Vince Vaughn) comes into the picture and takes his friend to Las Vegas to get his ponderous mind off of the matter. Trent wants to push Mike back into the wide world of women, and he believes that after a night of gambling and cocktails, Vegas will be the ideal place to start anew.

The film follows Mike as he awkwardly tries to get back into the game; his failure to court women is almost astounding, or at least it would be to most, just maybe not to me (I too am a rather inept soul when it comes to the social scene). Whereas Trent is at his prime and knows how to get women through his rudeness and straight-forward nature, Mike is his polar opposite. Mike tries to be sociable with the women he meets at bars. Every time, the same outcome. He might come as far as getting the girl's number, but his inability to let go of the past that isn't too far behind him gets in the way every time. Sometimes, the women are sympathetic; other times, they are beyond impatient. The same could be said for Trent and Mike's two friends; the kindly Rob (Ron Livingston) and the hot-headed Sue (Patrick Van Horn), who accompany the duo on most of their wild nights out.

For its kind, the film is damn near flawless. If "Swingers" has a fatal flaw to its style, it is the pace at which the story moves; which often times, like a lot of comedies, moves a little too fast for its own good. Luckily, the characters are so real that they pretty much arrive on scene already developed, and the film is just long enough to develop them a bit more along the way. Mike is an interesting character and earns out sympathy early on; and I'm not kidding when I say that I somehow really related to this guy's insecurities and inner turmoil. Favreau, who also wrote and produced, plays the character with such raw honesty that you can't help but fall in love with him and his gang of swingers. He is more or less the main attraction here; and it's baffling to me that Vaughn's character, also important but somewhat less so, would appear on the film's poster instead.

The film is fairly low-budget, but I can't say it really shows. The camerawork isn't anything too fancy but it does utilize the Vegas locations quite well, and the bar scenes are well-handled and perfectly atmospheric. But what matters here the most, I suppose, is not the visualization of events but the writing and character drama. The screenplay is truly witty in the sense that there are a few great scenes in which the characters uphold long, yet engaging, conversations. For instance, I liked the scene where the "swingers" talked about cinema such as "Reservoir Dogs" and "Goodfellas". The film makes a lot of references to earlier movies. There's even a steadicam sequence meant to mimic the famous one from the aforementioned Scorsese classic. And who can forget the "Reservoir Dogs" homage and the "Jaws" theme music playing when Trent is in the club and on pursuit. And of course you've gotta have a "Casino" reference thrown in for good measure.

Indeed, that's one other thing I didn't like about the movie. But what it all boils down to is two major (or even minor, depending on just how you decide to look at it) things about the picture that I don't necessarily like nor love. Everything else is pretty much sheer bliss. "Swingers" is perhaps marketed wrong in the sense that you probably go in expecting something a little more slapstick and goofy. There are goofy moments, but it's mostly a human comedy that gets laughs because we've been there; "there" being, well, wherever these sorry souls are. I found the blend of humor and realistic drama kind of touching and genuine by the end. And a few fun facts: the film popularized the term "Wingman" as well as the phrase "Money" to describe something that is "cool", "good", or of quality. I'm not sure if the 90's Swing revival can measure up to the one of the 1960's, but it's probably best to just live it up like these fun-loving guys rather than dwell on which is superior to another. Cocktail in hand, just enjoy the hell out of "Swingers" because it offers up entertainment that is both consistent and surprisingly thoughtful. I know I liked it more than I had expected to.

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Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This film is soo money it doesnt know how money it is. Vince Vaughs breakthrough is Hilarouious. Jon Favereaus script it excellent.
review by . June 10, 2008
This is a really funny movie that definitely has some grain of truth. Anyone who has/currently lives in LA will likely find this portrayal of the LA dating scene pretty accurate. Vince Vaughn is excellent in the movie and is the perfect actor to play his macho, alpha male character. While there are definitely elements of the movie that are somewhat offensive, this fact is overridden by the comedic incidences portrayed as well as the terrific acting. This is definitely a modern classic.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie



Genre: Comedy
Release Date: October 18, 1996
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Jon Favreau
Runtime: 1hr 36min
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