Vegas baby! Vegas! This well known and oft used quote from Swingers has particular relevance for me in 2012 as my partner and I are planning to go to Vegas later this year and get married!
Vince Vaughn is a bit of a household name these days but it wasn’t until Doug Liman's 1996 indie hit 'Swingers written by and starring Jon Favreau that he really hit the big time. And what a perfect film to be his breakout hit! It may be a low budget film but it’s so money!
Mike (Jon Favreau) is a struggling comic trying to get over a bad breakup. Trent (Vince Vaughn) is his cool, slick, fast talking friend who takes him on a trip to Vegas. It’s the ultimate place to get over a break up and to pick up random women.
The script is a bit ramshackle but it’s funny, engaging and gives the characters plenty of room to improvise and cut loose – which they clearly did at every opportunity. Part of the effects of this is that as a film, in general, as times it feels a bit random and disjointed and I remember watching it several years ago and thinking that it didn’t really hold together all that well in terms of having a narrative but that it did have a fairly genuine and believable emotional core – despite being a little bit over the top at times.
Watching it again now, on its release on Blu-ray (which looks and sounds great of course – much sharper and more colourful than the original DVD release so well worthy of the update and upgrade), I see more of the attractiveness of the film than I did on first viewing. I can identify with the characters more fully on a second viewing I think, maybe because I’m older, but for some reason the characters feel more likeable now, still awkward and even bordering on pathetic at times, but in a sympathetic way. Favreau and Vaughan perform well in a film that you could perhaps say was a pre-runner to the likes of The Hangover.
Vaughan and Favreau are now much better known as actors than they were back in 1996 and although Favreau has predominately moved behind the camera he has probably become more famous as a director, whilst Vaughan is still something of a Blockbuster hit machine… despite the odd cinematic flop.
Swingers is a dialogue heavy film, but as it has got plenty of funny observations on life in general, relationships and Hollywood culture it doesn’t drag. Doug Liman's direction is impressive not being traditional – but preferring to employ various fancy camera techniques all to great effect – in many ways it is quite the lesson in cinematography from one of the best directors in the business.
So with an ace director, two wonderful comic lead actors and an array of quirky supporting characters, plus a script full of laughs, Swingers has a guaranteed place in the hall of fame of movies – well at least movies set in Vegas anyway! Vegas baby! Vegas!