One of the most sincere and earnest looks into single life in the 90s, Swingers is nothing but money, baby! Mike (writer/director Jon Favreau) is new to Los Angeles after years in New York City. He is so obsessed with his ex that he can’t stop checking his answering machine, a device that “speaks” to him in a proto-Stephen Hawking voice and more or less tells him what a loser he is.

SwingersLucky for him, Mike’s best friend Trent (Vince Vaughn) is determined to lift his spirits. He decides that what the two of them need is an impromptu trip to Vegas, so they ditch Los Angeles for a night and head to sin city for a little fun.  Though their attempt at gambling doesn’t go well, the guys pick up a cocktail waitress and her friend for a little fun. While Mike comes close to doing the deed, he just can’t stop talking about his ex long enough to close the deal.

Back in Los Angeles, Mike’s professional life isn’t going a whole lot better. He still has hopes of making it as a comedian, but he can’t even land the smallest of bit parts, let alone headlining ones. Beaten but not down, Mike visits various Hollywood and Los Feliz hot spots, including The Derby, The Dresden Room and the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop, while his friends, the potentially violent Sue (Patrick Van Horn), the sensible Rob (Ron Livingston), and the cool headed Charles (Alex Desert) discuss movies, video games, and their careers; all the while giving Mike tips on the art of seduction in hopes of bringing him out of his funk.

The plot isn’t a complicated one. Swingers is a story about a group guys trying to help a friend during a difficult time in his life. Anyone who’s ever suffered from a broken heart will probably understand not just where Mike is coming from but where Trent and the rest of the guys are as well. Swingers also clearly understands and explains the pitfalls of trying to make it big in Hollywood. There’s a reason Vince Vaughn’s character uses the word ‘money’ as an adjective to describe everything good in life. We come to learn why he’s so preoccupied with his looks and making time with all the ‘beautiful babes’ that surround him. While acknowledging that Hollywood can be pretty shallow, the film also points out that some out there do work really hard to rise above it all and have some sort of moral compass.

Ultimately the film manages to find a nice balance between funny and cool, sincere and superficial. The performances of Vaughn and Favreau anchor the film perfectly; Vaughn is about as cool as they come, handsome and charismatic, the second a little awkward and maybe not quite as comfortable in his own skin. They make a great team, their friendship entirely believable and a big part of what makes the movie work. Supporting roles from John Livingston and Heather Graham stand out as well, helping to flesh out the story. The film is nicely shot, capturing some great locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles which just adds to the realism of the entire movie. This one is highly recommended.

This 1080p presentation of Swingers showcases the film more beautifully than it’s ever looked on DVD, although the films low budget origins likely means it will never look pristine. Colors are brighter and more vibrant here, and contrast, while not spectacular, is above average. Shadow detail is surprisingly strong, and the artifacting that marked earlier DVD editions has been taken care of. Overall detail quality is soft, but apparently it’s because certain shots were out of focus.

Swingers‘ DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio sound mix is somewhat less impressive. Dialogue is clear and understandable. The film features a terrific soundtrack and all the music is vibrant and clean. Dynamic range is fair, but taking into consideration the film’s source and style, this is to be expected.

English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.

We get the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn we get a lot of description of what we’re already seeing on the screen instead of giving us information about background which might have been more interesting.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Doug Liman and Editor Stephen Mirrione is a more consistently compelling commentary, with some interesting tidbits on audience testing and such, as well as some relevant information about the  filmmaking process.
  • “Making it in Hollywood” Original Documentary (SD; 49:19) is an extended EPK making of featurette, with some good interviews with Favreau and others in front of and behind the camera. The indie spirit which helped get the film made is explored, as well as the impact the film had on several of the key players’ lives.
  • The Cutting Room Floor (SD; 13:56) features a handful of deleted/extended scenes, with timecode captions running around the frame.
  • “Swing Blade” (SD; 3:27) is a faux trailer combining Swingers with Sling Blade.