By Daniel Fickman
Film Fix – ‘Swingers’
This is the 10th “Film Fix” episode I’ve completed and today I’ll be taking a look at the 1996 film “Swingers,” which is easily in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Maybe top five. “Swingers” is a story about a couple of out of work actors living on the “east side” of Hollywood during the 1990s swing revival.
Favreau wrote the script for “Swingers” in two weeks. He had various friends in mind for key roles, specifically Vaughn.
Favreau plays the lead role, Mike, a comedian who just moved to Hollywood from New York, leaving behind his girlfriend of six years. Mike has trouble meeting women because he still hasn’t gotten over this breakup.
Vaughn plays Trent, the leader of the bunch, sort of a wannabe Frank Sinatra. Trent is Mike’s best friend and makes it his mission to help him out of his funk that he’s been stewing in. There’s a scene where Trent yells at one of the friends for insulting Mike. This was written at Vaughn’s request to show that underneath his swagger he really does care about Mike. Trent teaches Mike the unwritten rules of the scene.
“Swingers” is also one of those movies that’s endlessly quotable: “Baby, you’re so money” and “Vegas baby, Vegas!” The film also launched the careers of many. Not just Vaughn and Favreau, but director Doug Liman, who went on to direct box office hits like “The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” The film also catapulted the careers of Ron Livingston (who you’d recognize as Peter from “Office Space”) and Heather Graham. The film also helped revive interest in 1940’s culture, Hollywood night life and swing music.
I really think “Swingers” isn’t just a “guy movie” — it’s a great movie. It’s a great movie about camaraderie and relationships.
“Swingers” was among Miramax’s independent film movement of the 1990s. The small, independent Miramax Studios, formed in 1979 by brothers and co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein (the name was derived from the combination of their parents’ names: Miriam and Max), produced and distributed independent and foreign, and then — more recently — even mainstream movies. Miramax made a name for itself in the late ’80s and ’90s by making “art” films and the small independent and foreign language movies that other studios refused to make. Along with Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” in 1994, which I talked about in a previous “Film Fix” episode, Miramax picked up “Swingers” in 1996 for its hip and offbeat sensibility.