November 15, 1996 in Seven

Unhip Losers Amuse In Sweet ‘Swingers’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

(From For the Record, November 16, 1996:) The movie “Swingers” is playing at the North Division Cinemas. The wrong theater was listed with the move review in Friday’s Weekend section.

One of the trends of ‘90s cinema has been the loosely structured screenplay. In many cases, what happens is not as important as how it happens.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always a good thing, as the quickly departed (and for good reason) “Feeling Minnesota” demonstrated. From the casting of Dan Aykroyd, still doing his “Saturday Night Live” riffs, to Keanu Reeves, still stuck in his dudespeak demeanor, “Feeling” never achieved the hipness that it so desperately craved.

The characters in Doug Liman’s “Swingers” aren’t hip either. They’re sexist and piggish and whiny enough to warrant Liman changing the film’s name to “Losers.”

Yet the movie knows this. In fact, Liman and screenwriter Jon Favreau are so up front about it that while their characters might not be hip, they can pass for it.

And, consequently, the film in which they star becomes hipness personified.

Further, since those same characters are mostly decent, good-natured, in some cases good looking and in all cases hilariously funny, they are worth watching. Even for 90-plus minutes.

Even when those minutes involve little more than one of the characters bemoaning the loss of his girlfriend and the others trying to break him out of his funk.

The distraught soul is Mike (the screenwriter Favreau), a comedian and would-be actor who is struggling to keep his head up. Professionally, that is. Personally, he’s surrendered.

But his friends, especially Trent (Vince Vaughn), but also Sue (Patrick Van Horn) and Rob (Ron Livingston) are having none of it. To them, Mike is “money.” He has, they tell him, so much going for him that he just can’t miss - if only he’ll get back on the horse and ride it hard.

“You’re so money and you don’t even know it, baby,” Trent says, money being the movie’s slang term for choice or quality or whatever word you want to use to describe a person who has what it takes to succeed. Mike is money just as each of these guys is “baby” to the others, with Mike being the biggest baby of them all.

“Swingers” takes us from Mike’s apartment to a Las Vegas casino (where Favreau and Vaughn embarrass themselves but humor us) to Los Angeles bars and parties. Along the way, we begin to wonder whether Mike is ever going to get it - although we should know better.

His friends, meanwhile, maintain their faith. And it pays off.

If you’re looking for great truths here, you’re not likely to find them. What “Swingers” offers is some appealing characters, some funny dialogue, a few riotously funny sequences and an ending that is both ironic and upbeat.

Oh, and Liman is also into another one of those ‘90s trends: “Swingers” has references to a number of other movies, such as “Casino,” “GoodFellas,” “Diner” and, especially, “Reservoir Dogs.”

That Tarantino, man, you know he’s really money, baby.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: “SWINGERS” *** Locations: Magic Lantern Cinemas Credits: Directed by Doug Liman, written by Jon Favreau, starring Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, Heather Graham and Patrick Van Horn Running time: 1:36 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Swingers:” Robert W. Butler/Kansas City Star: “Swingers” is a disarmingly sweet movie about guys who spend most of their time acting like jerks. Bob Fenster/The Arizona Republic: “Swingers” is one of those low-budget, dirtymouthed “Friends” kind of movies made under the theory that if you keep talking long enough, something funny will come out. Amy Dawes/Los Angeles Daily News: A cool, trendy guys’ movie in which nobody’s guts get splattered? Imagine that, Quentin Tarantino. Full of fresh faces, retro-Rat Pack style and wry, self-deprecating humor, “Swingers” is that rare youth movie that not only connects with the culture but expands it.

These sidebars appeared with the story: “SWINGERS” *** Locations: Magic Lantern Cinemas Credits: Directed by Doug Liman, written by Jon Favreau, starring Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, Heather Graham and Patrick Van Horn Running time: 1:36 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Swingers:” Robert W. Butler/Kansas City Star: “Swingers” is a disarmingly sweet movie about guys who spend most of their time acting like jerks. Bob Fenster/The Arizona Republic: “Swingers” is one of those low-budget, dirtymouthed “Friends” kind of movies made under the theory that if you keep talking long enough, something funny will come out. Amy Dawes/Los Angeles Daily News: A cool, trendy guys’ movie in which nobody’s guts get splattered? Imagine that, Quentin Tarantino. Full of fresh faces, retro-Rat Pack style and wry, self-deprecating humor, “Swingers” is that rare youth movie that not only connects with the culture but expands it.


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