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Guilty Pleasures


Directed by Doug Liman

Main Cast:
Mike – Jon Favreau
Trent – Vince Vaughn
Rob – Ron Livingston
Sue – Patrick Van Horn
Charles – Alex Desert
Lorraine – Heather Graham

Rated: R

“Baby, you are so money and you don’t even know it.”

     So are the words of Trent (Vince Vaughn) to his friend Mike (Jon Favreau) in Swingers, a hip and funny film that in a small way helped boost the recent interest in Swing Music, cocktail lounges, martinis, and Vegas. Well, maybe not Vegas. But anyone at least familiar with any of these things or the Rat Pack, will recognize a modern variation of an old friend in this film.
     Mike just recently moved to L.A. from New York and became single when his girlfriend, Michele, broke it off. The problem is that Mike can’t get over her and spends all of his time not moving on and reminding everyone he knows that he can’t. If he goes several hours and doesn’t mention her, he’ll bring it up as an accomplishment and not realize that he’s making no progress at all. He also has a very large inferiority complex and no confidence in his ability to pick up girls.
     Mike is a guy that I can relate to. I am the kind of guy who doesn’t have confidence in my ability to pick up girls, much to the consternation of my friends, who try to tell me otherwise, just like all of Mike’s friends. The difference is that I am not money and I know it.
     Another difference is that I don’t whine about it nearly as much as Mike does. He complains. He gripes. He almost cries. It’s a testament to Jon Favreau’s performance that he is able to play a character that the audience wants to smack in the back of the head and shout, “Get over it!” and he is still able to come off as a likable and sympathetic person.
     His friends do their best to help him, especially Trent, who always drags him out, usually against his will, and trys to get him to take a chance and pick up some “beautiful babies”. But as the saying goes, he’s not gonna move on until he wants to move on. Even when in Vegas and they have scored some female company (thanks to the stylings of Trent) Mike blows it for both of them in a moment that will remind many of a similar situation in the classic "The Odd Couple".
     Other situations revolve around the perils of trying to survive and make a living in L.A.. How do you deal with a girl that you’ve been eyeing from across the room when she turns out to be nuts? How much integrity is a person willing to sacrifice for an acting job if it means playing Goofy at Disney? How soon is too soon to call a girl once you get her number? The last question is partially answered when Mike finally does get a girl’s number and gets into a battle with an answering machine and manages to go through all the stages of a relationship in the space of five minutes. It’s both painful and hilarious to watch.
     Swingers is a movie that has a lot of style and a lot of laughs. It has many humorous observations about the foolishness of trying to be smooth and cool. There are also many conscious influences from other movies. Besides the Odd Couple moment, there are nods to Reservoir Dogs and Goodfellas.
     Make no mistake, however, that even though the story revolves around poor, single Mike, the film belongs to Vince Vaughn. His clever, energetic, and shameless performance as the likable player Trent enables him to walk away with the movie and to a great many people, including myself, it’s a career making performance.
     So if you’ve got time and want to see a well written and well performed comedy, make sure that you check out Swingers.

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