I guess I have to start this off with mentioning how biased I am on this, Swingers is one of my favorite movies. Regardless of whatever flaws some may see in it; be it the meandering plot, the balance of not having Mike seem too annoying, or its popularizing of common phrases such as, “Vegas Baby!” or, “You’re so money,” I unabashedly love watching Swingers. It’s incredibly funny, features great turns from younger, skinnier versions of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, has a great sense of capturing the Hollywood nightlife scene thanks to the visual eye of Doug Liman, and is all around lots of fun to watch. Now the Blu-ray is out, which made me plenty anxious to revisit the film once again. Given the film’s low budget, it was interesting to see how the high def format would work for the film. Fortunately, it is suitably money.
Before Jon Favreau was known as the big-time, blockbuster director of films such as Iron Man, he was in fact a struggling actor, working his way through the grind of Hollywood. During that time, he managed to write the screenplay for Swingers. Swingers feels fairly autobiographical, but regardless, it stars Favreau as Mike, a struggling comedian from New York, who has moved to Los Angeles hoping to move on up with his career. Mike has recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is still pining the loss. In trying to familiarize himself with the dating world that is LA nightlife, his best friend Trent (Vince Vaughn), also a struggling actor, attempts to keep Mike’s hopes high, as they move in and out of the swinging lifestyle, searching for beautiful babes.
The extended first act of the film is more or less a short film in itself, as Mike and Trent set off on a trip to Las Vegas, where we get a suitable look at the dynamic between these two characters. Once returning to Los Angeles, the film really settles in its groove, as we follow Mike, as he hangs out with Trent and others, including a friend of his from New York, Rob (Ron Livingston), who has also moved to LA in hopes of becoming an actor. These various nightlife adventures lead to Mike’s various encounters with different people (mainly women), as the film shows us what it’s like to hit up the various clubs, bars, and parties that are the happening place to be during the dark hours of the night.
As I have already stated, Swingers is a favorite film of mine. The five stars rating is less of an overrating based on my already established bias towards this film in my eyes and more the encapsulation of how everything in the film comes together just perfectly for me. I find the film hilarious (with some great signatures scenes, including one all time classic); well written (establishing a great sense of camaraderie between the friends and having some fun observations with the LA nightlife scene); and very well shot (capturing that nightlife in a wonderfully indie film sort of way). Everything about this film makes me either smile or admire at how it all comes together so satisfyingly.
Interestingly, while there have been plenty of buddy comedies in the past, it feels like Swingers may have been one of the precursors to the “bromantic comedies” that have arisen in the past few years. As much as this film is about Mikey’s plight to land a woman and forget about his ex-girlfriend, this movie is really dedicated to the tight bond between Mike and Trent, as well as Rob. Among the many places that this film does shine, it is great to see the friendship aspect handled so well, especially given how it reflects on many similar comedies of today, let alone the film Made, which reteamed Favreau and Vaughn years later.
One last thing, before I wrap up by continuing to state that I love this movie, is how funny and interesting the smaller elements are concerning the life of being a struggling Hollywood talent. Hearing Rob complain about only being offered the role of Goofy at Disneyland or listening to Trent tell an audition story manages to play just well enough that it is not lost on people less familiar with the industry is a strength in Favreau’s screenplay, which is based on what he knew. It these nice little tangents, along with the ones about how to deal with relationships in terms of when to call the number or what to say that builds a fun universe for this film to exist in. The whole film really falls into a Woody Allen-like type of tone, but just played up to be a lot cooler in a very good way, fitting for this film.
So yes, I continue to love this movie and find it practically flawless in terms of entertainment value. The chemistry between Vaughn and Favreau is dynamite, the look of nightlife in the film is superb (and knowingly referential at times), and it even manages to contain a great soundtrack to score the whole film to. It is also incredibly quotable (an element I have purposefully avoided using to my advantage here, because there are so many great lines). If in need of a small scale comedy that is tons of fun, certainly go and check out Swingers.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to viewing this film in hi def. Given that it was shot before the popularity of digital camera use, when it comes to making low budget features, there is an appropriately grainy quality when it comes to looking at a number of sequences in the film. There is a scene early on in Mike’s apartment that definitely does not look the best under the scrutiny of a 1080p Hi Def transfer. That said, there are a lot of sharp visuals when it comes to many of the nightclub and Vegas sequences. With Liman serving as his own photographer, I enjoyed seeing his indie-gorilla filmmaking tactics now be moved over to the world of Blu-ray. While not a standout in video quality, I can appreciate how much better this film looks now, as opposed to on DVD.
There are two things that Swingers has when it comes to its audio, lots and lots of dialogue and the music tracks that occur during the many nightclub scenes. Fortunately, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio tracks do a great job in keeping these things intact. The film sounds quite good throughout, never had much of an issue with the balance, and got a lot out of how the audio mix for the film was handled. It helps that I quite enjoy the soundtrack of the film as well, so some of the extended scenes, which feature a lot of music in the background, were appropriately handled when it came to adjusting this audio track for Blu-ray. Saying all of this, I realize that as an indie film, not everything was captured in its making, which takes away from it being a full surround experience, but I was still quite pleased with how the audio came out on the disc.
As I know not much can really be added to this section, as a film as small as this can only be supplemented by so many features, I can only grade so high here. The extras, while good, are all ported over from the special edition DVD release and are all in SD. Still, what is offered is pretty decent overall. Features Include:
Audio Commentarywith Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn – As I enjoy listening to Favreau and Vaughn, I was entertained quite a bit by this track. They talk about developing the film as an indie, stories related to scripting the film, and other things like the use of everyone’s actual car. It’s fun.
Filmmaker’s Audio Commentary – To really get into the nuts and bolts of making this film, there is an equally good commentary here as well, which has director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrione talking about how they got this film made, given the locations needed and the lack of experience between many involved. Another good listen.
“Making it in Hollywood” Original Documentary – A solid documentary that goes over the whole experience that involved Swingers, including the writing, the filming, the reception, and the legacy of sorts that the film now has. It is divided into several parts and features many good interviews from almost all involved.
The Cutting Room Floor – A few deleted scenes that just peak at a little more that wasn’t needed for the final film.
“Swingblade” Short Film – A parody film trailer that combines Swingers with Sling Blade.
Original Theatrical Trailer
Swingers is just a lot of fun to sit back and enjoy. I have watched it many times and the film continues to hold up. It provides plenty of entertainment for many reasons and rewards rewatches with others, given the many memorable scenes. The Blu-ray is nice enough as well. While the video suffers in spots, the audio makes up for it. The features may not be new, but they do supplement the film nicely. Massive Swingers fans should feel free to upgrade to Blu-ray and newbies to this film should just go out and grab it. After watching this film, you’ll be feeling money in no time.
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