You have to love those movies that seem to define a generation. Today’s movie is definitely one that seemed to resonate with my generation. I lost count of the number of times I have heard someone saying “That’s money!” or “Vegas, baby!” over the years. I will admit that it took me a while to get the references, as I didn’t end up seeing this movie until several years after it came out. Once I did, however, I decided to buy a copy of my own to keep so I could watch it whenever I wanted too. Now let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Swingers.
The plot: In Los Angeles, Mike Peters, a struggling comedian, is sitting in a diner with his friend Rob and complaining about how he misses his ex-girlfriend Michelle, who is still in New York. When he gets home, Mike contemplates calling Michelle but calls his friend Trent instead, who convinces Mike to go to Vegas with him. When they get there, Mike immediately loses $200 on a high stakes blackjack table and heads down to a lower risk table for the rest of the night, where he manages to get some of it back. After collecting his night’s winnings, Mike wants to go home but Trent convinces him to stay by talking with a waitress, Christy, and asking her to get a friend and go out for drinks with them when her shift ends. The two meet up with Christy and her friend Lisa and Christy invites them back to her place, where she ends up hooking up with Trent while Mike talks with Lisa about his ex, then interrupts Trent and Christy so he can use Christy’s phone to call Michelle. The two leave Vegas and end up talking on the side of the highway, where Trent tries to convince Mike that he needs to get over Michelle as he is better off without her. Mike hangs out with Rob, Trent, and their friends Sue and Charles, where they decide to head out to a Hollywood party. At the party, Mike attempts to pick up a girl, with Rob acting as his wingman but he gets shot down as he doesn’t drive an expensive enough car for the girls’ tastes. Meanwhile, Trent manages to get a girls phone number but then immediately rips it up as he walks away from the girl, causing the guys to chastise him. They leave the party and head to a club for some cocktails, where Mike actually ends up hitting on a girl named Nikki and getting her number. As they are leaving, some guys bump into Sue and they end up arguing and as things start getting heated, Sue pulls out a gun and chases off the men. The other guys chastise Sue over his actions, with Rob and Charles leaving, and Mike walking away in anger after Sue calls him out for how he has been pining over Michelle for 6 months. When Mike gets home, he ends up calling Nikki and leaves her several messages until she eventually picks up and tells him to not call her again. Mike is feeling depressed and considers moving back to New York but Rob comes over and talks him out of it, telling him how he actually is doing good for himself right now. Mike decides to go hang out with Trent and finds him and Sue playing video games with the guys that they got into the argument with at the club. Sue says that they ran into them the next night and apologized and realized they had a lot in common and started hanging out. Sue then apologizes for what he said to Mike and they patch things up. Mike, Trent, and Sue head out to a dance club and while they are there, Mike notices a girl at the bar and begins talking to her. He learns that her name is Lorraine and she is in a similar situation as him and she asks him if things get better. Lorraine asks Mike to dance and they end up heading out onto the dance floor, with Trent and Sue happily watching their friend. Afterwards, Mike walks Lorraine and they make plans to get together again and as they are eating breakfast, Trent and Sue congratulate Mike on seeming to be getting his life back on track. The next day, Mike receives a call from Michelle and he starts to talk with her but when he gets a call from Lorraine, he hangs up on Michelle so he can focus on building a relationship with Lorraine.
Swingers was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Funny, heartfelt, and effortlessly cool, Swingers made stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, established Doug Liman as a director to watch.” The scene where Mike and Trent were talking on the side of the freeway was actually done illegally, as the crew not only did not have a permit but filming is not allowed on that particular highway. Doug Liman decided to shoot anyways, even when police showed up, and covered it up by leaving the camera running while not looking through the viewfinder, and using a microphone in the car instead of a boom mike. The movie was a box office hit, earning $4.6 million off of a $200,000 budget and helped launch the careers of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Rob Livingston and director Doug Liman.
This is a great movie to watch. Jon Favreau (Mike), Vince Vaughn (Trent), and Rob Livingston (Rob) were all great in their roles, as was Heather Graham in her brief role as Lorraine. The story was well written, with Favreau adding a lot of realism to the script by using his own experiences from when he first moved to L.A., where he had broken up with his own girlfriend before the move and his friends helped him get over it. The music in the movie was pretty good, being a mixture of classic 40’s and 60’s swing/lounge music with some more modern music from the mid-late 90’s swing revival, a revival that coincided with the release of the movie (though there is no direct correlation between the two). A great movie and definitely one that is worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5