Swingers originally debuted on DVD when the format was still in its infancy. As with most titles released during that time, it suffered from a lackluster 2.0 audio track, non-anamorphic transfer, no trailers and hideous packaging. Now roughly five years later, Swingers has returned to DVD, this time in a spiffy new Collector’s Series edition from Miramax. With every issue the first release was plagued by addressed, this release is everything a fan of Swingers could ever hope for.
Swingers’ story focuses on…the misery of Mike (John Favreau, writer), an aspiring actor/comedian whom is lovesick after leaving his girlfriend in New York six months prior. Encouraged by Trent (Vince Vaughn) and several other friends, Mike sets out to reluctantly conquer women on the Hollywood lounge scene. Unfortunately for Mike, it’s not always “On” and he is humiliated time after time again. It takes the fancy swing dance moves of Loraine (Heather Graham) to finally rid Mike’s brain of the haunting memories with his ex.
What makes Swingers so successful is John’s combination of hysterical events from his own life within the framework of the story and the handheld direction of John Linman. Combined with breakout rookie performances from several of the stars, all the components of an entertaining film came together perfectly and turned this meager $250,000 independent film into a worldwide hit.
Swingers’ audio is presented in a full-blown 5.1 Dolby Digital surround, a great leap up from the first versions 2.0 mix. Unfortunately, despite turning my head several times, I was unable to pick up much action out of the rear channels. Even during scenes involving music, I expected the surround experience to be a little more enveloping. Still, the balance across the front is more than acceptable which is important for this dialogue-driven story. Lines are never washed out by music or other sound and the experience is a positive one overall.
Having viewed both the original DVD transfer and this updated anamorphic one, I can safely say there has been a drastic improvement in the image quality. The original’s color balance was either slightly washed out or dull and grainy. It gave me the impression that this was a direct port of the VHS. For this release, the transfer appears to be taken from the original film, cleaned and finally presented in all its 16X9 glory for the full theatrical impact. There are very few specks or instances of edge enhancement present.
Whereas the original release had no extras, this Collector’s Series edition has all anyone could ever want! The highlight is the “Swingblade” spoof movie trailer, putting the lead character from Slingblade into the Swingers world. It’s short but very funny and worth multiple viewings. Next up are two full-length commentary tracks, one from Director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrione, the other from writer/actor John Favreau and actor Vince Vaughn. Both provide excellent insight into both the making of the film and the thoughts/ideas behind it. Even more insight into Swingers is available in four short featurettes, which can be viewed as one. I recommend every young and aspiring young professional to view these simply to understand the dedication it takes to get ahead. Next up are five deleted scenes, which are mostly extensions of existing scenes. These are very rough but expand upon the characters and show the talent these actors really had. Finally there are some photo stills and trailers.
Even if you are like myself and have never experienced the Hollywood Lounge scene or tried to become an actor or actress, Swingers will make you laugh. It retains its laughs after multiple viewings and at least one scene can be related to by just about anyone (Sega Genesis NHL Hockey, anyone?). Chances are, you’ve heard the lingo spoken in the movie before. With an MSRP of only $14.99 it should be swinging its way into your collection immediately.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Actor’s Commentary
- Making It In Hollywood” – Original Documentary
- Deleted Scenes
- “Swingblade” Short Film