Pillbox

Swingers

Life has its ups and its downs. Somedays you feel worse off than other days and sometimes life hits you with something that makes you feel like that for months on end. Mike (Jon Favreau) — deprecating protagonist of Doug Liman’s Swingers — is going through one of these periods in his life. He is a standup comic who has moved to LA to find work, but has not met with any success, and on top of that he is coming out of a six year relationship. His life is in shambles. In this backdrop, his friends Rob (Ron Livingston), Trent (Vince Vaughn), and Sue (Patrick Van Horn) try to cheer him up by taking him out to bars, clubs, and diners to meet new girls.

I love the way this film begins: the opening scene is set in a diner with Mike and Rob sitting in a booth. Mike says to Rob, “Okay, so what if I don't want to give up on her?” Rob, “You don't call.” Mike, “But you said I don't call if I wanted to give up on her!” Rob, “Right.”

This scene tells us so much: it establishes the setting, the plot and the mood. It introduces us to the protagonist Mike, and tells us that he keeps brooding about a girl, and that his friends are trying to help him get over it. Most importantly though, the scene gives us a taste of the kind of humor to come.

The film can be accurately described as a comedy drama, and it is hilarious. For example consider the things that happen when Trent convinces Mike to go to Vegas. They both suit up and drive to Vegas from Los Angeles so that they can show up as high rollers and get all the free comps. They start the trip enthusiastically shouting, “Vegas, baby, Vegas!” However, on the long drive there, their enthusiasm mellows down to nothing. Instead of the crazy ride there, we see what really happens on drives to far off places — drowsiness and stops at seedy gas stations. When they get there we see their stylish entry into a casino only to find old people playing slots with Mike describing the place accurately as “dead.” This is the first film that I have found that accurately describes what happens when young people go to Vegas. They go into the casino with the expectation of a crazy time only to find old people playing slots and to make a fool of themselves at the gambling tables. The Vegas scenes also show us for the first time Mike and Trent’s attempts at getting with girls.

We see how Trent is a natural at this but Mike fails miserably. The rest of the film shows how Trent, Mike, and friends hit up various bars and parties across LA in search of women. Typically, this is followed with Mike messing things up really quickly. See what happens when Mike does muster up the courage to go and talk to a girl. He says hi and she asks what kind of car he drives. Ashen faced he names the type of his broken down car and then shouts that it’s red, it’s a red car before turning away embarrassed. This scene is quickly followed by Trent talking to a girl, getting her number and then tearing the number up as he walks away from her. The next time they go out, Mike does manage to get a girls number. However, in one of the most excruciatingly painful scenes in the movie, we see how Mike desperately leaves the girl five to six messages on her phone the night he meets her before the girl picks up and asks him never to call her again.

In between all these mess ups on Mike’s part, his friends are constantly trying to pick him up by saying things like, “Baby, you’re so money and you don't even know it!” It’s their way of saying that Mike has so much going for him and yet he fails to see it. The characters in this movie have a language of their own. They refer to girls as ‘beautiful babies’ and whenever something is impressive they say ‘that’s so money!.’ Not to mention the things they say to pick up girls, including “this is the guy behind the guy behind the guy.” Most of it doesn't make sense and the movie makes fun of that.

Through all the jokes and missteps though, the movie has an important message to impart. It reminds us of the importance of friends; Trent, Rob and Sue try their best to help Mike meet girls so that he forgets about his girlfriend. This movie truly shows how your friends are there for you when you’re going through a rough patch. How they constantly keep trying to lift your mood and remind you that, “Baby, you're so money!”