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Wayne Gretzky’s head bleeding was the hardest thing to shoot
January 27, 2014 6:39 AM   Subscribe

So Money. An oral history of Swingers.
posted by xowie (29 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I loved this movie when it came out, and within two years realized I could never quote it again. Despite falling out of love with everything associated with the film--the lingo, the music, the bullshitty hunter-killer mindset of dating, the gambling (ok not the gambling I still love gambling)--I still think its a delightful and funny small-scale film with some life-lessons worth learning, none of which involve bowling shirts.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:03 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I am not too proud to say I am a) one of those guys who imprinted on this movie in a vulnerable early-20s post-breakup phase of life, and b) I played a LOT of Sega hockey, though not because of this movie.

I haven't watched it since, nor did I ever buy a fedora, but I appreciate that it existed.
posted by escabeche at 7:26 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I'm working on a theory that the entire reason Bill Simmons got Grantland started was to create this oral history. It makes too much sense not to be at least a little true.
posted by Copronymus at 7:46 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


It gave us Jon Favreau, which in turn led to his directing "Iron Man", which in turn led to a solid foundation to base the Avengers movie universe on and, eventually, an "Avengers" movie directed by Joss Whedon that made a bazillion dollars.

On the other hand, it gave us Vince Vaughn. So its kind of a wash.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:58 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Vince Vaughn gave us Wedding Crashers and Dorothy Mantooth.

There are a few scenes in swingers that take the piss out of Vaughn, that show him as being more a sociopath than a heroic character -- a hint of something that was made explicit in Made, which entirely seems to be about demystifying the Vaughn character, presenting him as an entitled and tantruming monster. Vaughn coproduced it, and I have to give him credit for so quickly deconstructing a persona that so many creeps immediately emulated. He can be an incredible deft comic actor, and that works because he's so completely able to present the neuroses simmering underneath the swagger.

I'm a little afraid he might be a dick in life, and his track record for films is going from "mixed" to "declining," but he's done work that I genuinely respect.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:08 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Vorpal Bunny:Hi. My name is Vorpal Bunny, and I wore a fedora to high school in the mid to late 1990's.

All: Hi vorpal bunny.

Vorpal Bunny: And a chain on my wallet!!

Vorpal Bunny flees the lecture weeping
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:13 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I'm a little afraid he might be a dick in life, and his track record for films is going from "mixed" to "declining," but he's done work that I genuinely respect.
posted by Bunny Ultramod


A guy I know worked on Wedding Crashers and will tell any and all that Vaughn is indeed a dick in life.
posted by COBRA! at 8:15 AM on January 27


That Sega hockey scene was like a dog whistle. The conversation about them taking fighting out of the game and replacing it with the head bleeding had been had by so many guys of my age group at that time, in rooms exactly like the one in the movie. Putting it at the beginning of the movie was like putting up a sign saying "if you recognize this, you're going to love this movie. If you don't, you should probably step away now."

Vegas, baby.
posted by dry white toast at 8:23 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Remember that time Vince Vaugh made a documentary about Troubles related wall murals in Belfast. That was weird but pleasant.
posted by Damienmce at 8:39 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Hang on, Voltaire.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:45 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


This movie is in the same class as Idiocracy, Office Space, Boondock Saints, and maybe Donnie Darko. Which is to say movies that are severely diminished by their fanbases. They might be better movies than I give them credit for (I actually like the non-director's cut of Donnie Darko), but years of seeing the quotes on Facebook pages, and hearing them from jerks makes me hate these movies. And Boondock Saints never rises higher than mediocre, Willem Defoe aside.
posted by X-Himy at 9:07 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I wonder to what extent some of the rottener aspects of current bro culture are the result of lunkheads uncritically absorbing the worst alpha-male character traits from characters in this movie and The Boiler Room, which came out a few years later.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:10 AM on January 27


Boondock Saints is indeed trash, but douchebags are gonna douchebag whether or not these movies exist.

And would Vince Vaughn be less respectable if he hadn't tried to branch out from his typecast role into more high-minded things? I don't get this. It's as if he is responsible for how the public responds to his roles or how his role is marketed. He does a thing well, people want to see it, it's entertaining and totally harmless, but it gets held against him because it taps in to bro-dude-ism?

I get the response of "that's not my thing" maybe, but a response like above seems to be more about the viewer than the actor.

Anyway, I love Swingers, and this interview is fantastic as a peek behind the curtain. I like how they got most of their film from Twister table scraps. And how nobody knows what happened to the guy who played Sue, and somebody says "Favreau knows him", and they ask Favreau, who also has no idea. Poor Sue.
posted by Team of Scientists at 9:37 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I wonder to what extent some of the rottener aspects of current bro culture are the result of lunkheads uncritically absorbing the worst alpha-male character traits from characters in this movie and The Boiler Room, which came out a few years later.

I trace bro culture back to the ascendance of Maxim magazine. I think I also consider that magazine the final nail in the coffin of feminism in this country.
posted by any major dude at 9:44 AM on January 27


This movie is in the same class as Idiocracy, Office Space, Boondock Saints, and maybe Donnie Darko. Which is to say movies that are severely diminished by their fanbases.

Boondock Saints I will give you in spades, and the only guy I ever knew who quoted Swingers endlessly was a huge douche, so I will give you that, too. Donnie Darko doesn't really have much room to be diminished, and Office Space we can argue over.

But Idiocracy? It's rare that I find someone who has even seen it, let alone counts themselves a fan. Shit, plenty of people I've mentioned it to haven't even heard of it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:51 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Then you travel in a better class of people Steely-eyed Missile Man, because I know plenty of Idiocracy fans. They tend to run in two distinct lines. Nice guys who think "yeah, you're right, all the idiots and meatheads are breeding out us smart, good people," and people who just shout "Brawndo!" and stuff like that. Granted, I don't see much of either these days. But it's definitely a movie that a lot of people I know have seen.
posted by X-Himy at 10:00 AM on January 27


You need a little bit of larceny in your heart to get a film made.

Fun interview. Thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on January 27


Interesting article. I don’t think I ever realized this was such a big movie for people.
posted by bongo_x at 10:11 AM on January 27


I'm not a big fan of the movie, but I thought it was a great story about shooting on a shoe-string. Swingers is probably a very small percentage of indie movies where their creators pour everything into them and actually end up making it big because of that.

As to the fanbase, this was never a big touchstone for people my age (outside of occasionally quoting it ironically), and when I watched it in my mid-20s for the first time I thought everyone was sort of scuzzy and unlikable. I can see how a 19 year old version of me might have been more thoroughly persuaded, however.
posted by codacorolla at 10:18 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm the only woman who loved this movie? My friends (all guys) and I watched this and The Big Lebowski to my friends over a weekend on my suggestion and everyone else ended up quoting TBL while I quoted Swingers.

I still love to pull out a 'this place is dead anyways'. Except no one ever has any idea what I'm talking about.

Although the fedora'd dudes of today can be traced back to this era, I think it's incorrect to blame it on this movie. That was the general gestalt of this time - wallet chains, fedoras, bowling shirts. I appreciated that it introduced my friends to cocktail and swing music so that I could listen to something besides Korn and Tool. I'm sure if we lived closer to LA or NYC, we could have gotten exposure to the music from clubs or just generally from there being a range of youth cultures. But we lived in a small city that had a different kind of traditional music and we wanted a little bit of that Vegas tinsel on the rock.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:25 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Boondock Saints is a great movie about Willem Dafoe which is diminished by the filmmakers' insistence on repeatedly cutting to some guns with people and bad accents attached in order to fill out the running time.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:27 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Then you travel in a better class of people Steely-eyed Missile Man, because I know plenty of Idiocracy fans.

Better class of people? But...I like Idiocracy. :(
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:28 AM on January 27


What kind of writing is that intro?
posted by humboldt32 at 12:26 PM on January 27


I loved this movie, and still do. This is easily my favorite of the recent explosion of oral histories; I especially loved the bit about finding and shooting on all the leftover film.

In re: taking the piss out of Trent/Vince, it really starts in this film with the final scene, in the diner, with the baby. *Swingers* is, in part at least, about Favreau's character evaluating and rejecting becoming more like Trent in favor of a more mature version of himself.

Granted, he gets a date with Heather Graham out of the deal, so that probably helped his logic. ;)

As far as the vintage shirts and swing are concerned, I saw the film as part of the early wave of the whole big-band/swing revival. Frankly, I enjoyed it while it lasted. Swing music is fun. Swing dancing is fun. As someone who has spent most of his life being uncomfortable with the whole "just dance!" free-form thing most people do when "dancing" is indicated, the actual formalized nature of swing made it possible for me to, for a brief period of time, have a tiny bit of confidence on a dance floor.

Also, Old School, Anchorman, and Dodgeball combine with Swingers to justify nearly anything else Vaughn could ever do short of serial murder.
posted by uberchet at 12:48 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Old School, Anchorman, and Dodgeball combine with Swingers to justify nearly anything else Vaughn could ever do short of serial murder.

Dodgeball is actually the only thing I could ever stand him in. Don't even get me started on Wedding Crashers, ugh.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:15 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I liked the sketchbook; Favreau is clearly a multi-talented guy.
posted by Slothrup at 1:37 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Nothing will ever signify LA to me as much as a group of a half-dozen or so guys driving from one party to another, following so close it's like a choreographed dance, pulling side-by-side into the destination parking lot and setting Clubs on their steering wheels one after another.
posted by ckape at 2:54 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


And yet, ckape, that moment is the most un-L.A. bit in the whole movie. Finding one open parking space is hard enough, but a bunch right next to each other? Never happen!
posted by platinum at 11:13 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


that moment is the most un-L.A. bit in the whole movie. Finding one open parking space is hard enough, but a bunch right next to each other?

Yeah, there should be a scene where everyone stands around for half an hour trying to decide who’s driving, the smallest amount of car(s) that can hold the most people, and then several people decide to skip the whole thing and stay home.
posted by bongo_x at 9:24 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


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