Most of the time, you want him around - he's the fun friend that makes you extra witty when in his presence. But for now, he's the last person Mike (Jon Favreau) needs. A struggling comedian trying to adjust from New York to Los Angeles, Mike is just getting over a brutal breakup with his girlfriend of six years. Though it's been six months since they last spoke, he can't seem to think of anything besides the relationship he was once a part of. He'd rather drown in his self-pity than move on, but Trent is determined that a couple of one-night-stands and couple of memorable flirtations will do him some good. Maybe he's right - but to Mike, looking for romance is about as appealing as competing in a triathlon on an empty stomach, fifty pounds overweight.
But you can't turn down Trent's pep talks when he's determined, now can you?
1996's "Swingers," directed by Doug Liman and written by Favreau, is perhaps not the bromantic comedy I've made it out to be - I've only done so because this central story is the single piece of story really to be found amid its never-ending conversations. It's a talking movie of the "Chasing Amy" sort, concerned with the banter its characters participate in more than the coordination of something plot-driven. I don't have much of a problem with that so long as the talking's compelling and well-staged, and Favreau, fortunately, is a writer able to make restaurant booth exchanges and long-winded stories have luminosity that make the mundane more bewitching than the cinematic.
That's a feat, too. Favreau, who wrote the screenplay with his close friends in mind, concocts characters and relationships that go beyond plain convincing - the characters are as unintentionally hilarious as they are effortlessly human, hardly a faux result of Screenwriting 101. And the actors do Favreau's writing justice; though his own performance as the film's focal lonelyheart is the best and most touching of "Swingers," Vaughn is spectacular as his loud-mouthed sidekick, Ron Livingston effective as the stable counter to Vaughn's Trent, and Heather Graham, who shows up during the film's finale, is a sweet, potential love interest worthy of Mike's vulnerabilities.
"Swingers" is more a chatterbox than it is a straightforward comedy, drama, or romance, but get lost in the dialogue and you'll like the direction it takes you. Favreau's writing is as defiantly naturalistic as it is easily funny, Liman's direction breezy. And sidelined with Vaughn's charismatic, star-making turn, "Swingers" makes for a film of youthful cool we don't mind bowing down to.
Written by Favreau and loosely based on he and Vaughn's life and friendship, Swingers is about a group of struggling actors who are involved in the '90s Hollywood swing revival. It follows Mike (Favreau), a New York native who can't get over his ex-girlfriend. But his friends, most notably Trent (Vaughn), try getting him out of his depression by forcing him back out onto the playing field.
Both leads are fantastic. Vaughn wows the audience with his unique brand of fast-talking humor. And Favreau is so convincing as a wallowing sad sack that you genuinely feel bad for the guy.
The scene towards the beginning where the pair of friends go to Las Vegas sets the tone for the entire movie. It establishes a style that is vehemently consistent throughout.
Swingers has everything that will make you want to drive to Los Angeles and Las Vegas right this second. It ties together the glitz and glamour of both cities, seamlessly connecting the two. But I think what captures the neon vibe of the film's locations is the juxtaposition of failing to make it. This failure, of course, isn't stressed. It's still opportunity. It's optimism.
Neither Mike nor Trent have had much success in the industry, but Trent is still having the time of his life, while Mike's only reason to be down on himself is his breakup. The film paints a perfect portrait of confident mediocrity, and being complacent with it.
The story's exposition takes its time, but in a perfect way. Every scene has a sincere purpose and contributes to establishing the depth of its characters. But it's beyond just the characters. A movie is refreshingly good if even the circumstances have depth. In fact, that's when it's great.
Twizard Rating: 97
A couple of great scenes with Favreau and his answering machine/telephone.
A real indie feel to this movie. Perhaps they could have edited the extended music scenes, but a minor quibble.
Part of what makes this film great are the performances. Jon Favreau is a great writer, director, and actor. Not only does Favreau give a good performance, the script for the film is also brilliant. Favreau's writing style is energetic as hell, and full of fantastic dialogue. Also, as a fan of Vince Vaughn, I found his performance also very enjoyable. Recently, Vaughn starred in the second season of hit television show, True Detective. He's a wonderful actor with a massive range.
"Swingers'' is a funny, charming, and well written comedy that admittedly, is a tad generic. If you enjoyed the film, High Fidelity, will very much enjoy this film. The performances are strong, the direction is solid, and the script is sublime.