In the spring of 1997, my buddy and I were looking for a flick to watch on a Friday night and stumbled upon a movie called Swingers starring some guy named Vince Vaughn and Roller Girl from Boogie Nights. Obviously, it was the latter that caught our attention, but we were all in on the comedy the Los Angeles Times dubbed, “Hip and funny!”
The movie changed our lives.
No joke. For my friend and me, there was life before Swingers and life after Swingers. We learned a lot from that movie: How long does one wait before calling a girl after a first date? Six days. Always double down on an 11. Most importantly, never ever leave more than one message on a woman’s answering machine.
We also learned that Vaughn was a talent waiting to be unleashed on the world. His performance in Swingers heralded a new type of guy — the hip, unabashed, overconfident, swingin’ buddy that may or may not carry the keys to life’s great mysteries, i.e. sex, women, and the deeper meanings of friendship. Vaughn has since gone on to become something akin to a rock star with enormous comedy hits like Wedding Crashers, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Anchorman, The Break-Up, and Dodgeball. To say nothing of dramatic fare like the incredible Brawl on Cell Block 99, Dragged Across Concrete, and vastly underappreciated crime drama Arkansas.
MORE: North Hollywood Poster, Release Date & Clip With Miranda Cosgrove and Vince Vaughn
Alongside Vaughn stood Jon Favreau. While we only knew Favreau as that dude from Rudy at the time, he’s since become a household name thanks to the role he played in establishing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the very popular Mandalorian Disney+ series. The man has worked with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Will Ferrell and directed enormous hits like Elf, Iron Man, and the recent Lion King remake.
Swingers also gave us Ron Livingston, whose deadpan humor propelled Office Space and led to terrific turns in Band of Brothers, Boardwalk Empire, and A Million Things, among other projects. Finally, the director, Doug Liman, whose only previous directing credit was the 1994 comedy Getting In, went on to helm Go, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow, and American Made.
Swingers influenced my life but also shaped the lives of so many creative individuals. The film is absolutely money in every sense of the word. Hell, I swear I saw a McDonald’s commercial that ripped off the film’s iconic ending:
Swingers remains a cool, breezy, and even hilarious look at the life of the young adult circa 1996. For Mike, Trent and the crew, who spend their nights parading about like low-level extras from Reservoir Dogs — and, as Roger Ebert explained, “are so near to stardom they can reach out and touch it, and so far away they can’t afford to pick up the check” — nothing is more important than the next night club where one might score the digits from a “honey baby” or, in this case, a young Heather Graham.
Really, Swingers is an inside look at life on the outside of Hollywood, where would-be stars scrape and claw to survive, where playing Goofy at Disneyland marks a huge step in the right direction. The film, as written by Favreau, is both hilarious and kind of heartbreaking. Here we have a group of boys pretending to be men. They play golf (poorly), wield pistols, gamble at high stakes tables, and talk a big game, but mostly spend their afternoons playing video games, wrestling on the floor, and courting the opposite sex. They’re too distracted to recognize the harsh reality of their situation.
“You made it,” one character tells another. “You got an agent, you got into unions. That’s your problem, you don’t look at the things that you have. You only look at the stuff you don’t have. Those guys are right about you, you’re money.”
“Then why didn’t she call,” the other replies.
There’s also an irony to Swingers in that nearly everyone involved went on to find enormous success, or the true Hollywood ending*.
So, 25 years later, I wanted to tip my hat to a film that truly left a mark on me when I was but a wee lad. Swingers remains just as awesome today as it was when I first saw it in my parent’s garage back in 1997.
In case you needed further proof, here are my five favorite scenes from the flick. Enjoy! Then take a trip to Vegas, baby!
“Always Double Down!”
Mike Leaves a Message
Trent Makes Gretzky’s Head Bleed
The Greatest Game Ever Played
Mike for the Win
*Personally, I think Mike went on to some level of fame, while Trent likely made a living working for his friend in some capacity.
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