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Swingers: Collector's Series

In "D-Girl", the seventh episode of the second season of HBO's mob series The Sopranos, Jon Favreau makes a guest appearance as himself, a filmmaker cozying up to real organized crime figures while developing a screenplay about famed Mafia gun "Crazy" Joe Gallo. In one scene, Christopher (Michael Imperioli), a Sopranos family underling, offers Favreau this blunt assessment of Swingers, Favreau's debut film: "That's the one beef I had with Swingers: You guys patterned yourselves after Frank and Dean, but there was like a pussy-assness to it." Although Favreau sheepishly explains that the so-called pussy-assness was intentional, he does so with the resigned defeatism of an artist who has heard that comment one too many times. Swingers, which Favreau wrote as well as starred in, is a classic example of the willfully misunderstood cult favorite. Set against the backdrop of mid-1990s, ironic "cocktail nation" faux-hipsterism, it is actually an affectionate-but-stern rebuke of shallow poseurism. Nevertheless, the low-budget indie flick became a knockout sensation thanks to Vince Vaughn's charismatic and influential star-making performance as a brash wannabe laboriously constructing an affected — but effective — Rat Packish swagger. However, the heart of Swingers is Favreau, as a hapless and frighteningly unfunny comedian, still reeling from the breakup of a six-year relationship and loathing himself for lacking Vaughn's fraudulent confidence with women. Shot for $250,000 with inexperienced director Doug Liman at the helm, Swingers made a big splash, and while Vaughn's many hilarious and spellbinding monologues deserve their due (and earned the film legions of acolytes who mimic his catchy quips and catch phrases ad nauseum, glamorizing his means while ignoring his foolish end), Favreau's quiet introspection (a.k.a. pussy-assness) is what gives the movie its permanence. Although Swingers shows the rough edges of its meagre origins, it's full of classic and meaningful scenes, including an irresistibly painful conversation between Favreau and an answering machine. Also with Ron Livingston and Heather Graham. Miramax presents this terrific Collector's Series edition of Swingers with a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby 2.0 Surround mix. The extra features included are money: a fun and revealing commentary with Favreau and Vaughn, which is augmented with a "tellustrator"-like onscreen "action commentary" marking system to draw attention to visual elements in the film; a second commentary with director Liman and editor Steve Mirione; a series of four engaging featurettes covering the film's interesting origins, production, and cultural reception; alternate versions of key scenes, including an extra take of Vaughn's aggressive hockey video game prowess; and the short spoof "Swing Blade," which fails to deliver the laughs in its combination of Swingers and Sling Blade. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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