Swingers: My Generation’s Citizen Kane

Swingers: My Generation’s Citizen Kane

For people of a certain (middle) age, one film from the mid-90’s resonates like no other.  God that sounds terrible – how about one is really fucking excellent and awesome?  That’s better.  (I can’t really tease this further since the title of the post gives away what movie we are talking about).  Swingers fucking ruled/still rules.  Why post about a 13 year old movie?  I was taken aback when a recent Bill Simmons article on espn.com suggested that The Hangover had replaced Swingers as the go-to film for Vegas references.  Listen, I loved The Hangover – but it was no Swingers.  NFW.  Swingers perfectly captured the essence of 90’s friendships – the competitions over chicks/sports/video games, the epic drinking nights, the steady guidance in the face of (often-temporary) insecurities, the fights.  So many perfectly-rendered scenes, so many breakout stars, so much alcohol, so many hotties that never exploded like the guys did – it’s all there.

In real life, I’ve quaffed a few drinks at the Dresden Room and drunkenly explained to Marty and Elayne how meaningful the movie was for Generation Old.  The only real downside I can think of to Swingers was how big swing dancing became, and how my roommate at the time became a huge swing dancer with the wallet chains and whatnot.  (Allegedly, it was a good way to meet women, but I think it was perhaps another accessory for his personal closet.  Time will tell.)  As lame and overused as “Vegas, baby, Vegas” has become, it’s still a calming salve to one’s ears upon arriving in Las Vegas, Nevada.

5 Reasons Swingers Is Awesome

1. Swingers injected more new talent than any other movie in recent Hollywood history

Look who's all grows up...and all grows up and all grows up...
I would enjoy having some drinks with Double Down

Doug Liman and Jon Favreau have both directed huge tent-pole franchises (the first Bourne flick, Iron Man).  Vince Vaughn became a $20 million per movie actor and has starred in some of the highest grossing R-rated comedies ever.  Heather Graham emerged from her post-Drugstore Cowboy career coma and became a borderline A-lister.  Ron Livingston was in Office Space, which should make him eligible for a career achievement Oscar one day.  Even Nikki (Brooke Langton), the girl Mikey left 15 ill-advised messages for, was the female lead in a Keanu Reeves movie!  That’s an incredible post-Swingers group resume (even though Charles and Sue are nowhere to be seen).

I honestly can’t think of another movie that launched so many substantial careers –  maybe The Blair Witch Project?

2.  The resultant Swingers‘ drinking games have been outlawed in many states

Playing by standard rules – take one drink any time you hear a character say “baby” or “money” – most normal humans will be sporting a Miguel Cabrera-esque BAC before Mikey and Trent exit the casino.  Even if the drink of choice is Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  Seriously, give it a shot*.  (Unless you live in SD, ND, FL, AL, AK, HI, MO, MS or ID.)

Basking in the success of another, a rarity
I make that face sometimes, too, T.

3.  There’s lots of solid trivia throughout to amaze and annoy other people who are watching

The guy winning big at the $100 table is Vince Vaughn’s dad; the older woman who hits a hard seventeen (even though the biker guy next to her is silently imploring her to stay) is Favreau’s mom.  During the famous answering machine scene, the answering machine itself disappears intermittently throughout the scene, even though it is the focal point of the shot and at one point is speaking to Mikey (about how big of a tool he is).  Spielberg casting VV in the Jurassic Park sequel after watching the “Groucho” scene to approve its use of the Jaws music.   The Goodfellas and Reservoir Dogs homages are nice touches, as well.  Any real fan should be able to run his/her own commentary track.

4.  There’s hot chicks

I honestly thought that Deena Martin (Christy, the Vegas waitress that Trent picked up – the one who wasn’t Dorothy) had star potential.  She was easy on the eyes and appeared to even have some acting chops when consoling Trent following the “brother” story and helping deal with Mikey’s lameness.  Haven’t seen her since, and it appears that the only thing she’s done recently is update her facebook page.  Sadly there’s not even a decent picture available on google.  The aforementioned Nikki was also insanely attractive while carving Mike up as she recalled him asking for an application at her coffee shop.  Heather Graham actually managed to look un-attractive in this, but the part required her to turn down the hotness a bit.  (That didn’t effect her standing in my world rankings.)  Strong work by the casting director.

Even in b&w, swing dancing is stupid
Even in b&w, swing dancing is stupid

5.   The movie remains hilarious…

Despite having seen it like 800 times, I still find practically every scene funny.  Lots of good stuff going on in the background (the aforementioned biker begging grandma to stay on 17, Mikey quietly calling T “Double Down” during the epic “Jenny Eat Something” monologue, Trent embarrassing Mikey with questions about the delivery guy, the fact that delivery was only 40s of malt liquor, etc).  I especially enjoy the final bar scene, with the guys celebrating as Mikey is finally making a move, Trent raking Sue over the coals about this girl (“we were playing football, I don’t remember you stepping away to call her”)…even the dramatic scenes had subtle stuff baked in (snowman on the par three course, “at least it’s Disney,” among others).

Apparently a lot of the material stemmed from the main cast’s real life interactions – Favreau, Vaughn and Livingston were really friends when they were coming up.  The “you’re like a bear, with fangs” speech was one Vaughn had given Favreau almost verbatim as he was trying to get over a breakup and re-enter the world, so that’s probably why much of the movie rings true.

5a.  …and still provides a vivid reminder of what it was like back in the good old days

Now that I’m old, when I hang out with friends we usually drink wine (and discuss tannins), play golf (and complain of back pain), talk about our meds, etc.  But Swingers is a nice reminder of the good old days, when we used to rag on each other constantly, talk shit, drink, play video games, talk more shit, try to pick up chicks, drink more, talk shit about who’s picking up more chicks, drink more while ineffectively trying to pick up chicks, do shots because your loser buddy is actually trying to pick up a chick, talk a smidge more shit, drink something out of a test tube, eat some greasy food at 3:15 AM, get close to starting fights with strangers….sigh….those were the days.  I’ve always maintained that Trent was the best friend in movie history, especially in light of his trailer park sacrifice (that part I do not remember from the good old days; I’m pretty sure most of my cronies would’ve said “you should go check your messages” and tried to hook up with Christy and Dorothy).  God bless you, Trents of the world, if you exist.

Somebody's head is about to bleed - hopefully not because of Sue and a curb a curb
Somebody's head is about to bleed - hopefully not because of Sue and a curb

Sadly, I’m writing this without the benefit of a recent screening, so I’m probably leaving out some important bits of analysis.  Swingers is the only movie I’ve ever purchased three times: twice on DVD and once on VHS, but sadly my copy is still in storage.  I might have to hit up the playstation network to make it 4x I’ve paid for it….

Have a nice weekend,


* wastedpotentialz.com is not responsible or liable for any injuries, monetary damages or hospital charges associated with such efforts.  For recreation only, not to be used for gambling or proprietary trading.  White zinfandel not included.

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