Swingers

on October 18, 1996 by Melissa Morrison
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   No, this is not the latest Joe Eszterhas sleazefest. Rather, the title refers to the old-fashioned, Sinatra-style swingers, as today embodied by '90s twentysomethings in Hollywood. Mike (Jon Favreau) is a comic who's relocated from New York and is having a hard time getting over the girlfriend he left behind. To get him back fishing in the love pond, a crew of Rat Packer buddiesdecked out in watch chains, wingtips and Tenex-ed hairhaul him to Hollywood's retro clubs, such as the Dresden and the Derby.
   The movie is shot in a similar fashion, opening with a neon-drenched montage of the city and including a scene where the Las Vegasy lights wash over the windshield of a car cruising the Strip. It's also loaded with up-to-the-minute homages, such as scenes that mimic Tarantino and Scorsese scenes that scream, "I am a first-time filmmaker," and jar the audience out of the tale in exchange for a knowing laugh. Those moments aside, the film's details ring true, such as when Mike's friends debate the appropriate number of days that must past before he can call a new girl, lest he appear too eager.
   The thing is, the filmmakers make Mike just a little more pathetic than an audience can sympathize with; "Swingers" comes off like a project a lovelorn screenwriter wrote to purge himself of a real-life breakup. (Not surprisingly, star Favreau is also the writer.) And the ending isn't as honest as the events building to it: Mike meets a gorgeous, unattached woman (Heather Graham) who thinks exactly the way he does about everything, and his curse is broken. Yep, that usually does it and winning the lottery is a nice bonus, too. Starring Jon Favreau, Heather Graham and Vince Vaughn. Directed by Doug Liman. Written by Jon Favreau. Produced by Victor Simpkins and Nicole Shay LaLoggia. A Miramax release. Comedy. Rated R for language throughout. Running time: 96 min. Screened at the Venice Film fest. Opens NY/LA 10/18.
Tags: Starring Jon Favreau, Heather Graham, Vince Vaughn, Directed by Doug Liman. Written by Jon Favreau, Produced by Victor Simpkins, Nicole Shay LaLoggia, Miramax, Comedy
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