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Swing Fling

Jon Favreau & Vince Vaughn
Cruise Control: Jon Favreau (left) and Vince Vaughn hits the
Vegas strip in Dough Liman's "Swingers."

'Swingers' looking for love
in all the hip places

By Judi Blackwell

HONEST AND THOUGHTFUL, the low-budget comedy Swingers follows a close-knit group of twentysomethings looking for love in Hollywood's hippest nightspots, where the '90s retro-swing movement, in all its glamour, rules. Sporting bowling shirts, pompadours and pocket chains, the crew of five--hopeless suburbanites trying their hardest to be cool--hits the bars in hopes of getting Mike (Jon Favreau), a struggling actor who's left the love of his life back East, out of his funk and back in the game. Mike, alas, is so obsessed over his estranged girlfriend that, after several failed attempts in the singles scene, he hides in his decaying apartment, hovering around the answering machine, waiting for her to call. He's the nice guy who can't talk to the opposite sex without making a complete ass of himself, which he does quite convincingly in several scenes.

After six months of Mike's moping, his buddy Trent (Vince Vaughn), an obnoxious, mile-a-minute talker, drags him on a road trip to Vegas, where their whole big-spender act is lost on cheap beer, a couple of cocktail waitresses and a crowd of blue hairs playing the one-arm bandits. Back in L.A., it's the same old thing. Bolstered by Rob (Ron Livingston), Sue (Patrick Van Horn) and Charles (Alex Desert), Mike and Trent hit the clubs in search of girls and the perfect Manhattan. In between trying to score, the group discusses the trials and tribulations of acting, the merits of Quentin Tarantino and whether to wait two days or three after getting "digits" to call a girl.

The simple dialogue effectively captures the phony bravado, banter and self-deprecating humor of a clutch of close friends, but it is the tongue-in-cheek humor that sets Swingers apart. In one scene, paying homage to Scorses's Copacabana set piece in GoodFellas, Mike and the guys climb the Brown Derby's back steps and enter the club through the kitchen.

Actor-screenwriter Favreau based the script on his first years in Hollywood, hanging out in retro-swing dance clubs, in a nostalgic subculture that mixes the best of the '30s, '40s and '50s to create its own version of the American Dream, with other out-of-work actors. "It's a cutting-edge scene," explained Favreau in a recent phone interview. "I wanted to capture the cars, the music and the great style of dress." Favreau wrote the script with his struggling-actor friends in mind, who star in Swingers as his bar-hopping comrades. "There was a playfulness and chemistry between us that made the film more real," says Favreau. Indeed, Swingers is a funny ode to friendship, night life and love, complete with a pathetic hero who is all the more lovable for being so sad and pitiful, and all the more deserving of a storybook ending.

Swingers (Unrated; 96 min.), directed and photographed by Doug Liman, written by Jon Favreau and starring Favreau, Ron Livingston and Alex Desert.

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From the October 24-30, 1996 issue of Metro

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