500 Movie Challenge: Swingers

SwingersPersonal note: I was a ballroom/swing dancer in the early 2010s. It was a really fun scene, and it really tickled me to see so many people innately interested in dancing. Who knew that so many people were innately interested in this camp-as-heck hobby?

Turns out, I had just caught the end of a cultural movement originating in the 1990s: The swing revival. I had no idea why I hadn’t heard of it before watching Swingers, but that’s the way life goes sometimes. These characters are into jazz, dancing, wearing suits and drinking martinis without the slightest hint of irony. It’s downright charming.

The gist: Mike is waiting for his ex-girlfriend to call him. Sure, they split up six months ago when he moved to Los Angeles. But she’ll call. He’s convinced she will. They were together for six years, for Pete’s sake!

Meanwhile, his fellow actor friends rally around him and try to get him back in the dating scene. They hit up industry parties, jaunt to Vegas, and troll swing bars with a mixture of hot young swing fans and senior citizens. And Mike is getting over his ex. But everyone’s doubting their own lives in the meantime. Where are they supposed to be, now that they’re in their mid-twenties? Is getting jobs and living in Hollywood full-time enough? Lots of quarter-life crises going on n this movies, but not in a way that detracts from the inherently upbeat culture of swing they’re swimming in.

What I “learned”: How do you take a movie about dating, center it around men, and keep it fresh without making it all about sex? You center it around a budding subculture that the mainstream doesn’t know about. You make everyone in the cast a member of that subculture. And you make everyone really care about that subculture.

There are lots of movies about dude trying to get laid. It feels like there’s a new one every year. But you have to be coming from a very special place to allegedly be the source of the term “wingman.” This movie definitely banked on the swing revival, but the level of enthusiasm the characters have for that subculture is what fuels the action. These aren’t just scumbags looking to get laid. These are dudes looking to get laid by women who also love what they love. It adds dimension, making it easier to believe it when they’re hugging it out or telling a lady how fine she is.

See this movie if you like: Movies about male friendship that actually feel real. Mike rolls his eyes at his “player” friends a fair amount. But when they’re golfing together the next day, it’s all kindness and listening. You understand why these people maintain their bond, and you don’t want to scream at them to ditch each other.

Avoid this movie if: Movies about the L.A./Hollywood lifestyle don’t really do it for you. If you’re tuckered out by Golden Age films all about how California’s the center of the world, this movie might grate on you a bit. It’s great at showing the dirty parts Los Angeles. The characters are mostly struggling actors, so it makes sense. But this is a very Los Angeles movie regarding tone. If that’s not something you’re ready for, best beware.


New Films Watched: 55

Films Re-Watched: 2

Total Number of Films: 57

poltergeist Princess Dread Movie Challenge

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