Why I Love... Swingers


16th September 2005

Shit. Oh shit. She's looking at me. I think she's actually waiting for me to say something. Fuuuuck. Say something out of left field; throw her, keep it relaxed and funny, drag her into your own world and keep her interested. "Drag racing is awesome!" Fuck, I can't believe I just said those words to a girl. I don't even like drag racing. Predictably, she lets out a small, nervous laugh, and immediately swivels round to rejoin the rest of the party, avoiding any further contact with this date rapist who's trying to engage her in conversation. Clearly, I wouldn't know cool if it squared me in the face, headbutted me and stole my beer. I know not the rules of cool. I try to be aloof but end up being a doof. I think too much. I worry about every little thing. Those guys who fret? I'm one of them. I am a Mikey. Welcome to my world.

Doug Liman's breakout picture Swingers is a fun, light-hearted comedy about dating, relationships and the underground club scene in L.A. Forget the fantastic soundtrack, the crude vernacular ("You're money, baby!") and the neon lure of Vegas; it's the relationship between Jon Favreau's Mikey and Vince Vaughn's Trent that gives Swingers its swing. One shy and funny, the other brash and outgoing, they're exactly the kind of guys you'd love to hang out with (their chemistry is no coincedence, the pair are great friends in real life any many of the exchanges from the movie are repeated verbatim from actual conversations). Mikey has just got out of a long-term relationship, and is finding readjusting to the single life difficult. An aspiring actor ("I played a bus driver in a movie once") and host of an open mike night at a comedy club, he's not exactly a hit with the ladies, and while his opening gambits may not include lines about drag racing, he still lacks the golden touch that best buddy Trent has in abundance.

Mikey lacks that all-important element of confidence. When presented with an opportunity for female contact, Mikey has the uncanny ability to deflate any given scenario with an ill-timed joke or awkward silence - that, or he ends up helplessly flailing around in the web of lies he's hastily weaved himself. Trent insists that Mikey is 'money' and tries to teach him in the ways of women the only way he knows how - the rules. How you get a number, how long you wait to call a girl, the moves you make, the places you go - rather than learning from Trent's wise words of wisdom, Mikey just ends up tying himself in knots (anyone who's been met with a girl's answering machine will always have that cringe worthy scene playing in the back of their minds). I don't identify with many people in movies. I don't reckon I'll ever bump into Natalie Portman in a doctor's waiting room, I'll never jump my car over a rapidly-closing bridge and the chances of me single-handedly taking out a tower full of German terrorists in my bare feet are pretty slim, at least until I finish university. But I can identify with Mikey. And I'm betting I'm not the only one.

Swingers works on two levels. On one hand, you have the cool cats that hit spots like The Dresden and the Hollywood Bowl, who wear the bowling shirts and loafers and know exactly what drink to order to look cool in a casino. You've got the people that heed Trent's advice, savagely attacking the little bunny rabbits with their big fucking claws - sure, if it works for you, then more power to you. On the other hand, you have the fundamental message; the rules are bullshit. This is illustrated perfectly at the end of the movie when Mikey, who's been a lost cause the entire picture, finally meets his match in the shapely form of Lorraine, simply by being the big goof he is deep down at heart. Cool is not something that can be defined - as soon as you put your finger on it, it ceases to be cool. You can dip your toes in the water and have a dabble, but when all is said and done, as long as you stay out of that world, you can see how truly ridiculous it all is.

It's a bold move for a movie that presents itself as having the very essence of cool - the music, the dress, the bright lights - to carry the underlying message that basically says 'this all means nothing.' This is why Swingers is the perfect feel-good movie - not only is it incredibly funny, impeccably performed and wonderfully shot, but it manages to take the vomit-inducing message of 'just be yourself' and make it seem like it's actually advice worth taking. I'm happy being a Mikey, because in the long run, Mikey's the big winner. I might not be hitting the 4.00am skank shifts or ripping up hot chick's numbers at parties, but hey, I can live with that.

An author friend of mine once approached a girl at a party and uttered the line "I could make you immortal." What he meant was that he could write her as a character in his book as a romantic notion; what it sounded like was he wanted to chop her head off with a big sword while standing on top of a hill in the middle of a lightning storm. But you know what? It worked. That cheesy-ass pick-up line actually worked. Suddenly the drag racing approach doesn't seem quite so ridiculous after all.

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This