Swingers Movie Review – Dating Lessons

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Swingers, A Film Written by Jon Favreau

Movie time!  If you read the Blog on a regular basis, you probably have figured out by now that I am somewhat of a movie buff.  Aside from their entertainment value, sometimes they’re reflections of our times, circumstances and emotions.   They can be thought provoking and emotionally riveting.  They also can serve as visual references that help provide a concrete depiction of what we’d like to see.

If you’re seeking dating advice, or are just fascinated by male/female relationships, and human social interaction, then “Swingers” is a must see film.  Depending on your perspective, you can definitely look at Swingers through various Filters.  Which lens you watch Swingers with can really impact your perception of this film.

  • You can certainly look at from a perspective of cultural depiction. Late night Diners, 5 guys driving to the same destination in 5 different cars, and road trips to Vegas… all familiar experiences to most people in their 20s living in Los Angeles.
  • You can view “Swingers” as a piece on the life of people struggling to make it in show business.  After all, the movie was written by Jon Favreau based on his and Vince Vaughn’s personal experiences before they became famous in the movie business.  You could even view it as a commentary on the experiences and mindset of struggling artists.
  • Perhaps you could jus t look at as a story of friendship and growth.  The story of 4 friends, (Main two revolving around Trent and Mike) who go through a period of growth and youth.

For our purposes today, we are going to look at Swingers from the filter of Dating and Attraction between men and women.  The title of this film can be a bit misleading.  It’s not about people who like to swap/bang each other’s wives and girlfriends.   Rather, it’s a great study of contrasting attitudes and behaviors, all of which have a direct impact on how interpersonal relationships.  You’ll also see Ron Livingston, of “Office Space” fame,  in this film.

Without further ado, let’s get to our two main characters

  • We have “Mike” played by Jon Favreau who also wrote the screenplay for this film.

Mike has broken up with his girlfriend and moved to L.A from NYC.  Depressed, and discouraged,  he is still mourning the breakup with his girlfriend in New York.  He is quite a bit negative, too self-conscious, and has the need to impress others.

  • We have “Trent”, played by Vince Vaughn in the original role that put him on the map.

Trent is what guys would call a “Natural” in the realm of dating and attraction.  He is one version of it, as even “Naturals” come in different variations.  Yes, even naturals come in different categories and archetypes!   Trent likes to have fun, doesn’t really care all that much what people think of his actions and makes a concerted effort to cheer up Mikey throughout the movie.

Much like the movie Sideways, this film is also a great study in two friends who exhibit vastly different behaviors driven from polar opposite belief system regarding Dating and Attraction.  In many cases Mike assumes the worst and expects negative reactions, and not surprisingly, that’s often what he gets.  He also lacks social charm and “Smoothness” of Trent.  Lack of confidence and social charm is a bad combination and Mike displays that very well.

Instead of going through the whole film, I am going to focus on specific scenes.  I realize this is a bit choppy, but this is meant to be more of an educational article rather than a mere film review.   Below are the list of Scenes for reference.   I’ll break each one down:

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The Vegas Trip, the Casino:

Throughout the entire movie Mikey is besieged by his needy behavior and his attempts to impress everyone around him.  It starts in the Casino.  From him trying to bet big with money he can’t afford to ordering his “Single Malt” Scotch, his behavior is an attempt to impress the people around him (especially the women.)

He wants the attention but he goes about it getting the wrong way, at the wrong time.  Trent’s actions, on the other hand, are congruent with his demeanor.  Note the interaction with the cocktail waitress at the Casino.  He has that the fun vibe persona.  He doesn’t care all that much, and he THINKS he is going to get the girl. It doesn’t matter if he is rejected.  He is undeterred.

Trent also has a playful persona that could be considered cocky.  Yet, he is very likable.  People know he is joking.  They are not offended him by him.  This is the difference between a guy who is actually likeable and one who learns Cocky/funny on the Internet.  The ladder often comes across as an a**hole because he learned cocky/funny from a guy who is socially awkward himself.

Trent’s unique ability on the other hand, is to say things and get away with them.  It’s the secret to his charm.  He may be “talking smack” but he is winking at you at the same time.  He is having fun and he is involving you in it.  You can’t be mad at a guy like that.

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Vegas Trip Trailer scene:

For those of you who have gotten a copy my audio course, you already know that I reference this scene in the Story-Telling CD. I spend about 50 minutes breaking down individual guidelines for Story -telling and many of those  be witnessed in action in this scene.

Trent likes to entertain and he is a masterful storyteller.  I always suspected that this was basically Vince Vaughn being himself, and it proved to be true.  On a behind the scenes look at the movie, it turns out that original story of “Big Brother” in the trailer was only about a minute long pm the original screenplay.  When Vince Vaughn got a hold of it, it became a 3-minute story after he added his improvisations and adlibbing.

This is one of the single best depictions of storytelling in a movie scene.  Also, noteworthy is Mikey’s display of poor social intelligence.  Watch his attempt to get attention by abruptly cutting off Trent in the middle of his story to come in with a “Double Down” joke that is completely unnecessary.  The timing is terrible and somehow Trent is able to roll with Mikey’s miscalibrated attempt at interjecting his own flavor.

This is a great scene to watch to see a masterful Story Teller at work.  It’s also a great depiction of how to get attention the right way versus the wrong way.  It’s having the social intelligence to know what to say at the right time.  Perhaps nowhere in this scene is that dynamic depicted more than Mikey’s comeback of “Well, we all got stories” which leads to an awkward silence.  These are the subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) differences that make or break interactions.

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The Bar scene with Martini drinking girl:

Mikey meets “Nicky” accidentally while trying to order a drink at the bar.  The interaction actually starts out pretty well, and Mikey is hanging there.  Falling back on his usual bad habits, driven by his insecurities, he resorts to his need to impress by overt bragging.  The interaction heads South at that point.  This insecure behavior compounded by his apologetic behavior is the root of his failures with women.

What to watch for in this scene:  For starters, Mikey’s Poor tonality is screaming at you.  His stumbling over words while trying to cover his track combined with his unsure/nervous behavior and the need to justify himself make him look like a fool.  Add to that his fidgety movement and his inability to create a pleasant social vibe.

The ability to VIBE. A lot of guys have heard that sentence before but don’t really have an idea of what it means, or at least, what it looks like.  Mikey does a good job of showing bad vibing.  You can feel the discomfort in the scene. He lacks the ability to VIBE.  In this case, she is very flirtatious in her mannerisms, (her laughter, the way she is sucking on the olives) and yet Mikey is serious enough to be conducting a court room hearing.  That mismatch in emotional energy leads to bad vibing.

Nevertheless, Trent and his other friend encourage Mikey to go and get her number.

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Grrrrr….. She is a little bunny and you’re this big fucking bear and you don’t know what to do….” Giving Mikey a bit of balls to believe in himself and act like a man.  The attitude and mindset Trent lays out is right on the money.   If everyone had a friend like Trent, I’d be out of a job……

Of course, this leads to the phone call scene which you’ll just have to see for yourself. I don’t want to ruin it.  It’s another classic scene, and Mikey shows why despite having a friend like Trent, he still needs some dating advice.

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The Swing Dancing Club, Mike Meets Maureen:

This scene isn’t as important as what follows directly after it.  Mike meets Maureen.  Unfortunately, the interaction looks as though Maureen is a high priced prostitute  who has been paid a 1000 dollars to Flirt with Mike.  She is completely overly flirtatious without reason and way too eager.  The unforgettable visual shot in this scene, however, is Trent [Vince Vaughn] sitting with his buddy, rooting for Mikey to succeed while completely ignoring an attractive girl sitting at his table.

This is something you’ll never see amongst most guys (and definitely more rare than a flying unicorn within the Seduction Community or amongst Pickup Artists.)  It’s the notion of not putting too much stock in strangers you meet at clubs.

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The Next Scene directly following Swing Dancing Club.

Mike escorts Maureen to her car outside the club.  This scene is very revealing.

In the end there is salvation for Mikey.  He has learned something invaluable from Trent.  He has learned to be congruent with who he is, and he has started to care less about what other people think.  He has learned to be a bit more assertive in asking for what he wants ["That's not going to be good enough.  I want to make plans."]

He stops trying to impress people all the time.  This is reflected in him talking to Maureen outside the club regarding his career and when she asks about his car, he points to it and casually/jokingly says,

It’s that Red Piece of Shit over there.”

He even has the cool guy tonality as he says it.  He doesn’t give a damn!  It’s not insecure, and nor is it needy.  It’s not hostile and it’s NOT self-loathing.   It is what it is! “It’s a red piece of shit and it’s my transportation for now,” he declares through his tone of voice.

Mikey has STOPPED seeking constant approval!  This is the take-away lesson you can apply to your dating life.

The movie ends nicely with a scene at a diner where Mikey has finally been able to let go of his ex, to which, even Trent is surprised.  There is one more gem in this scene:  It’s Trent’s “Baby talk” flirting with a woman sitting at the end of the diner.  You’ll just have to see the scene.  I don’t want to give it away if you haven’t.

When the flirting goes awry, Trent covers his head and walks out in a moment of temporary shame.  Guess what?  5 Minutes later, he’ll probably forget about it.  There are 2 keys to this failed interaction:

  1. At the diner, he just assumes that she is overtly flirting with him.  He believes it. What else could be the reason for it?  This is what makes him a natural . 90% of other men would look for every other possibility except that it may be them she is engaging.
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  2. When the interaction crashes, he moves on!  He’ll do it again!  It’s not a big deal.

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Swingers is a solid film and an ode to making a good movie revolving around various characters and their personal stories.  Being produced on a low budget does not hinder it from telling us a story, making us relate to the characters and their struggles while reflecting back at us, a piece of a cross section of our culture.   In the process, it also is fun to watch and you’ll learn a thing or two about how to attract women and such, specially if you reference this Blog to the aforementioned scenes.

While there are cultural reference that are relevant to the mid 1990s, “Swingers” is a film that will stand the test of time.  Jon Favreau’s multi layered story of deep-rooted friendships, hardships of struggling artists, and heartaches of dating/relationships will be relevant 10 or 50 years from the time of the film’s creeation.  For that reason, it will always remain a masterpiece.

Cameron

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PS.  The articles on this blog will have a profound impact on your dating life.  Please realize that they are supplementary and supporting material to what I discuss in my expanded work.  Get a copy of my Ebook here: Building Attraction with Women