Swingers (1996) – Netflix Recommendation of the Week

If you’re looking for a film to stream this weekend, look no further than Back To The Movies’ new weekly feature. Every Thursday we’ll be serving up hot tips on the best that Netflix has to offer, from forgotten gems and timeless classics through to modern masterpieces and essential documentaries.

swingersWe’re kicking off this column with a bonafide classic for comedy fans. Written by and starring a baby-faced Jon Favreau, Swingers was a springboard of a movie that helped launch the careers of Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, director Doug Liman (who would go on to direct The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow), and Favreau himself.

The plot revolves around a mock Rat Pack of unemployed actors in 90’s Hollywood, desperate to find their big break or at least just a decent night of partying in the Hills. Mike (Favreau) is struggling to overcome a difficult break-up, Trent (Vaughn) leads the never-ending quest for “digits”, and Rob (Livingston) is considering employment at Disneyland to pay the rent.

Shot on a meagre $200,000 budget, the making of Swingers is as interesting as the movie itself; a tale of creating a feature film with nothing but scrounged equipment, pulled-in favours and the continual search for investment. The rough and grainy result has become a deserving cult hit; surprisingly well shot, brilliantly written and playfully cine-literate (spot the nods to Tarantino and Scorsese).
swingers-34Despite being two decades old, the core of Swingers has hardly aged a day; voicemails may have fallen by wayside in the SMS age but this doesn’t make Mike’s cringe-inducing answer-message scene any less agonisingly timeless. It’s almost sad to see the young Vince Vaughn as Trent, full of promise in the days before being typecast as the blank-faced loudmouth. Trent’s “beautiful babies, come to daddy” dialogue became a phenomenon of its own, credited as popularising “money” as a positive expression.

While the premise may sound like any old bromantic comedy about dudes looking to get laid, Swingers has a warm heart at its centre. More than anything else, the film is about the bond of true friendship and the process of personal growth, it just happens to be told through within the dirty casinos of Vegas and the hidden backstreet bars of LA. Baby, this film is so money it doesn’t even know it.

Written by James Excell
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Swingers is available to stream on Netflix in the UK & USA.