Writer Recommends #3: Swingers


Directed by: Doug Liman

Written by: Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughan, Ron Livingston, Patrick Van Horn, Alex Desert, Heather Graham

The cast and crew on this movie reads like a veritable who’s who of powerful Hollywood names and familiar faces, but this was long before Bourne, Iron Man and Wedding Crashers.

Apparently based upon Favreau’s own experiences; Mike (Favreau), having been dumped by his long-term girlfriend struggles to get over her after moving to LA to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional comedian/actor.  His friends rally around him to help him move on.

This is a low budget comedy that, in hindsight, had the golden touch from the off.  But, brushing aside their subsequent successes, this movie is a fantastically fast-talking, wise-cracking feel good movie.

Mike half-heartedly attempts to move on from his ex-girlfriend, urged on by his womanising best friend Trent (Vaughan), his old buddy from back home who has come to LA to become an actor too (Livingston) and other friends (Van Horn & Desert).

 Vaughan absolutely steals the show.  His one-liners and long, raging monologues provide many of the movies laughs.  Trent’s confidence is over the top, but not so far that we can’t recognise the type and deep down it shows that Trent and the others are so desperate for Mike to move on because he is such a great guy.  There is as much in this movie about friendship as there is about getting yourself back into the dating game.

The comedy relies on rapid episodic situations that help to build up an overall picture of the story arc.  The dialogue is as snappy and sassy as you will see in any movie.  It has many quotable lines and memorable comedy scenes that will find their way into your vocabulary.  The depth and breadth of the dialogue with its rapid delivery ensure that this does stand up to repeated viewings, often a rare commodity for comedy. 

And if you ever go to Vegas, it will dominate your thoughts because, although the Vegas segment is perhaps 15-20 minutes of the film, it is such a great sequence that it stays with you.

The funding for the movie, in a similar fashion to Rocky (where Stallone, having written the movie, insisted he starred), was found on the proviso that the main cast characters would be played by the actors upon which they were based.  

The returns on such a meagre budget were superb, as was the critical acclaim, and it effectively launched the careers of those involved.

The DVD carries significant extras:

·         Audio commentary with Doug Liman and Stephen Mirrione.

·         Audio commentary with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan.

·         “Making it Hollywood”: 4 featurettes covering the writers, the making of swingers, swingers’ culture and life after swingers.

·         Deleted scenes.

All of which help to show, not only what a success story it was for independent and gorilla film-making, but what a labour or love it was for those involved.  The results of which are outstanding.

“You’re money and you don’t even know it!”


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