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Swingers

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: R (For Language Throughout)

Running Time: 96 minutes

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

Written by: Jon Favreau

Directed by: Doug Liman

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (14 Scenes)

Released: July 21st, 1998

 

 

Over the years, a lot of independent films have been made, and many of those did pave new ways and break new ground in storytelling and how films were made. But I think only a select few REALLY broke new ground, and those are the best and the most remembered. No, just because you do something on a cheap budget or create some amazing shot in a little movie doesn't mean you've changed the world. But when it comes to the world of indie flicks, "Swingers" ranks as one of my top three favorites - and one of the top three that I think really paved new ways, broke new ground and really became part of American culture.

The film follows Mike Peters (Jon Favreau), a guy trying to make it in Los Angeles after moving from New York six months ago. Unfortunately, Mike is bummed out that he left his longtime girlfriend behind in New York, and it does take its toll on him. However, his trendy friends, especially his good pal Trent (Vince Vaughn), try to get Mike back into the dating circuit and have a social life and make him forget about the past. And how do they do this? Why, going to all the trendy hip night spots nearly all Los Angelinos love!

Yet there's something so true to "Swingers." It's definently a film that will hold up probably forever, and isn't just a one shot kind of deal as I think some people tend to characterize the movie as. While the film has given quite a boost in breakthroughs to Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, director Doug Liman and Heather Graham to an extent, it's also added such terms like "beautiful babies" to our mindsets and given us an intriguing, fun look at west coast night life.

Still, despite all the fun, at the heart of the movie is really a story about relationships that does strike a chord. Some of you probably know that elements of the film are autobiographical to Jon Favreau, and certain scenes with him in it, that does show. It's not only about finding happiness in love and how certain approaches work better than others for different people, but rather, I thought the film was more about friendship, particularly Trent and Mike's. While I really did enjoy and took stuff out of the love elements, which are more or less flawlessly executed and gives viewers much to think about after the film is over, there's just such strength in how Mike and Trent's own friendship counteracts one another, the events of the movie and how much meaning it has.

Jon Favreau, who of course also wrote the script, really tones this movie with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart, plus plenty of great moments, quirky characters and strong dialogue. Favreau's acting chops are quite good here too, balancing the right amount of heartbreak and sense of positivity, even if there is some measure of negativity thrown into his character. His mannerisms and expressions are particularly strong, not to mention the natural and easy flowing chemistry he shares with Vince Vaughn. Vaughn is quick witted and charming here too. Other strong supporting performances come from Heather Graham, Ron Livingston and Alex Desert.

Some of you may also know Doug Liman shot this movie for very cheap, but thanks to his lush visual look and efficient shooting style, you'd probably never know it. Liman's directing style is very impressive and really helps add flair to the film, and it's just solid evidence that he started out strong and he will be a stronger filmmaker as time goes on, as shown in "Go" and more recently, "The Bourne Identity." The film also sports some great editing, and when it all adds up, "Swingers" is definently one unique modern classic that will continue to have flavor ages from now, and so many films that aspire to be it will never match it's wondrous and downright amazing execution. Well written, great themes, awesome acting and excellent directing really make "Swingers" one of a kind.

 

Presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, "Swingers" looks decent for what it is, especially considering it's a low budget film. Grain is noticable, there are nicks, dirt pieces and blemishes here and there, plus a lot of noise can be found throughout which can be a distracting. Color saturation is pretty good however. In the end, nothing majorly stands out, but it looks good for what it is and ranks slightly above average.

 

The main audio here is English Dolby Surround track. This track does shine nicely for what it is. Like most Dolby Surround tracks, it's very straightforward and things tend to blend together more easily. There is some fine imaging from time to time, but that lovable music, clear cut dialogue and strong sound effects (such as in the casino with people talking and slots going off) basically come together so you hear it all in one lump. Nothing gets cluttered so you hear everything as it should, but it doesn't exactly fully immerse a viewer. It's also a bit low. Also included are English subtitles, Spanish subtitles and English closed captions.

 

A full frame Theatrical Trailer is included here, plus "additional titles" which is just a cheap plug for other Disney DVDs. Feh.

 

A very awesome film, this DVD is decent at best. However, at this point, you might be better off waiting for the new edition of the film which is due out in the fall of 2002, and is set to have a good deal of supplements and an anamorphic transfer.