Swingers (1996 film)

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Swingers ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Doug Liman
Produced by Victor Simpkins
Written by Jon Favreau
Starring Jon Favreau
Vince Vaughn
Ron Livingston
Patrick Van Horn
Alex Désert
Deena Martin
Katherine Kendall
Heather Graham
Music by Justin Reinhardt
Cinematography Doug Liman
Edited by Stephen Mirrione
Independent Pictures
Alfred Shay Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • October 18, 1996 (1996-10-18)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200,000[2]
Box office $4.6 million[2]

Swingers is a 1996 American comedy-drama film about the lives of single, unemployed actors living on the 'eastside' of Hollywood, California during the 1990s swing revival. Written by Jon Favreau and directed by Doug Liman, the film starred Favreau and Vince Vaughn, and also featured performances by Ron Livingston and Heather Graham.

A critical and commercial hit, the film helped propel Favreau, Livingston, and Vaughn to stardom while also launching Doug Liman's directing career as he won the MTV award for Best New Filmmaker

This film was rated #58 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". The film was honored on the 2007 Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards.


Mike Peters is a struggling actor who left New York to find success in L.A. six months prior. The move precipitated a break up between him and his girlfriend of six years and left him feeling alone and heartbroken.

In the opening scenes of the film, Mike talks about his situation with his friend Rob, another thespian from back east. Mike feels miserable about their conclusions. Afterwards, while on the phone, Mike is coaxed into an impromptu Las Vegas trip by his new best friend, and also actor, Trent to help Mike get over his ex. The trip starts out on a high note with excitement and anticipation but soon takes a turn for the worse when Mike crashes and burns at the casino. Soon after, the guys manage to meet some ladies and just when it seems as if Mike can make some progress and salvage the trip, it all falls apart again and this time Trent goes down with him.

On the ride home, Trent gets Mike to feel better about himself and to look at the positive side of things. Mike promises to try his best to move on.

Now back in L.A., Mike and Rob get together for some golf and to talk shop. Later that night, Mike and Trent are getting ready to hit the Hollywood hills, at their actor friend Sue's apartment. With the vibes feeling right and things going well, Mike and Rob meet up with Mike's pal Charles, yet another starving actor, at a local bar where they admire the beautiful women. Soon afterward they rendezvous with the others and they all finally make it to a party where Mike makes an ill-fated attempt to get back into the game, while Trent gives the guys a lesson in how to handle the opposite sex.

The guys agree to head to their favorite after hours spot and, after watching Trent and Sue effortlessly meet some girls, Mike is clearly shown feeling lower than ever but not yet defeated. Trent and Sue convince Mike that he is in control so he finally makes his move like he's got nothing to lose and he actually meets Nikki and gets her phone number. Success at last, or so he hopes.

The swingers leave the lounge and narrowly miss getting into a brawl in the parking lot, caused by Sue's temper yet averted by Sue pulling a gun which no one else was aware was even a part of his attire. The group splits up but not before angry words are exchanged among friends. Mike is left feeling desolate once again.

To make himself feel better, Mike decides to call Nikki but he blows any chance he has with her when he leaves a series of increasingly awkward and desperate messages. Now he feels as if he has truly hit bottom and he sits alone in his apartment, missing his ex more than ever and contemplating a move back to New York. Rob comes over to console him and, after some serious talk, he feels like it's time to get back in the saddle again.

Mike meets up with the guys at Sue's, where he discovers that he has missed some changes in the group dynamic. That aside, apologies are exchanged and the nightlife once again awaits them. The next stop is a Hollywood night club for swing night. The guys enter through a makeshift VIP entrance in a style that pays homage to Director/Writer/Producer Martin Scorsese.

Once inside, the guys let the good times roll and Mike spots a beautiful woman whom he decides he wants to meet. He gathers all his courage and approaches her confidently. He finds himself in an actual interesting conversation with the young and single Lorraine. They are soon swing dancing and the chemistry between them is incredible. The night ends well and Mike, Trent and Sue head to an after-hours meal to discuss the particulars. Mike finally appears to be on his way to moving on and feeling good about himself.

The following morning Mike receives a phone call from his ex. She wants to talk about their state of affairs, but when Mike decides to answer another incoming call, he is greeted by Lorraine. He has to make an immediate decision as to which path he wants to go down and in a moment that solidifies his regained self-esteem, he puts his past behind him and chooses to take a chance on someone new. This moment parallels Rob's advice to Mike that he gives in the opening scene where he states that girls never call back until you have forgotten about them.

In the closing scene, Mike meets Trent for coffee and they enjoy one more good heart-to-heart while Trent is brought down to earth by a reminder that even when you have got it, you cannot win them all.


  • Jon Favreau as Mike Peters, a struggling comedian from New York, Mike recently broke up with his longtime girlfriend. Still pining over his loss, and anxious about the dating game, Mike has difficulty meeting new women.
  • Vince Vaughn as Trent Walker, an aspiring actor, Trent is Mike's closest friend. Trent is also a confident, cheeky, and occasionally selfish swinger. He makes it his personal mission to teach Mike the swinging lifestyle.
  • Ron Livingston as Rob, Mike's friend from New York, Rob is a recent arrival to Los Angeles and even less knowledgeable about the swinging scene, but he is not fresh out of a relationship and has a much more optimistic view of life. He provides a sympathetic ear to Mike and considers taking a job at Disneyland to pay the rent.
  • Patrick Van Horn as Sue, an ill-tempered swinger; Sue discusses the finer points of seduction with Trent, but is somewhat less sympathetic to Mike's problems. Mike later tells Rob that he is named after the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue."
  • Alex Désert as Charles, a swinging acquaintance of the group and another struggling actor. Charles accompanies the group while bar-hopping around Hollywood, proclaiming each place "dead" as they leave.
  • Heather Graham as Lorraine, a woman that Mike meets at a bar, Lorraine has a good sense of humor and is not overly concerned about the rules of dating. She is also new to the LA scene, having left a relationship behind in Wisconsin.
  • Deena Martin as Christy
  • Katherine Kendall as Lisa
  • Brooke Langton as Nikki



Favreau wrote the screenplay to Swingers in two weeks, with various friends in mind for key roles. One scene, in which Trent yells at Sue for insulting Mike, was written at Vaughn's request to make it clear that beneath Trent's swagger, he truly cared for Mike as a friend. Favreau and his friends gave reader's theater performances of the script to drum up interest in and capital for the movie.


Swingers was filmed on location at several Los Angeles nightclubs, particularly in the hip Los Feliz neighborhood, including the Dresden Lounge and the Derby. The Las Vegas scenes were filmed primarily in two locations, with the exterior casino shots taking place at the Stardust Resort & Casino and all the subsequent interior shots being filmed at the Fremont Hotel and Casino, farther north in downtown Las Vegas.

Filming locations
  • Mikey's apartment is located in the Franklin Village area of Los Angeles, a few miles from the Dresden Room.
  • The Dresden room is a popular (classic) bar and club in the Los Feliz neighborhood, located at 1760 N. Vermont Ave. Marty & Elayne, who are performing in the Dresden scene in the movie, perform at the Dresden in real life several nights a week.
  • The cafe where various factions of the crew meet and eat was the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop (now renamed under new ownership as the 101 Cafe) and is part of the Best Western Hotel on Franklin Avenue near Hollywood, and near the 101 freeway.
  • The bar where the characters dance is The Derby in Los Feliz, on the corner of Hillhurst and Los Feliz Blvd. In January 2009, the nightclub closed its doors.


In addition to casting their friends in key roles, Favreau and Vaughn gave cameo roles to their family members. Vaughn's father, Vernon Vaughn, plays the lucky gambler at the $100-minimum blackjack table, while Favreau's grandmother, Joan Favreau, is the lucky gambler at the $5-minimum blackjack table.


Box office[edit]

Swingers had a total budget of about $200,000 and a domestic theatrical gross of $4,555,020.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews. It holds an 87% "Fresh" rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 52 reviews; the site's consensus states: "Funny, heartfelt, and effortlessly cool, Swingers made stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, established Doug Liman as a director to watch."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a 71 out of 100 rating, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]

It served as a breakthrough for Vaughn, who gained public exposure and critical acclaim for his performance. In particular, he caught the eye of Steven Spielberg when a copy of the film was sent to the director so they could clear the rights for the Jaws music. Spielberg later cast Vaughn in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Director Liman also used the film to help launch a successful career in Hollywood (he would later be known for The Bourne Identity), and it was the first major film for Livingston.

The release of the film coincided with the swing revival of the 1990s. It increased interest in 1940s culture, Hollywood nightlife, and swing music. Some of the slang used in the film became popular in the years following its release, especially the use of the word "money" as a catch-all term of approval or quality. The exclamation "Vegas, baby!" also became a common quote when referencing the city. The film also gave exposure to the term "Wingman" in its social interaction context.[citation needed]


The film was voted as the fourteenth best film set in Los Angeles in the last 25 years by a group of Los Angeles Times writers and editors with two criteria: "The movie had to communicate some inherent truth about the L.A. experience, and only one film per director was allowed on the list".[5]

American Film Institute recognition:


Swingers Original Soundtrack
Swingers OST.jpg
Swingers Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 15, 1996
Genre Soundtrack
Length 41:21
Label Hollywood Records

There are two collections from the film; the first soundtrack, Swingers: Music From The Miramax Motion Picture, was released in 1996 and contained original music by composer Justin Reinhardt under the name "The Jazz Jury" as well as music by various artists included in the film. The second, Swingers Too!: More Music From... "Swingers", was released in 1999 and contained a single version of "Magic Man" by Heart (which had most of an instrumental section edited out, and was cut down to 3 minutes and 29 seconds) and a studio version of "Staying Alive" by lounge act Marty and Elayne, with other tracks inspired by the film.

Swingers - Music From The Miramax Motion Picture
  1. "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You" - Dean Martin [1964]
  2. "Paid For Loving" - Love Jones [1993]
  3. "With Plenty of Money and You" - Count Basie/Tony Bennett [1959]
  4. "You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)" - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  5. "Knock Me a Kiss" - Louis Jordan [1941]
  6. "Wake Up" - The Jazz Jury [1996]
  7. "Groove Me" - King Floyd [1970]
  8. "I Wan'na Be Like You" - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  9. "Mucci's Jag M.K. II" - Joey Altruda [1996]
  10. "King of the Road" - Roger Miller [1964]
  11. "Pictures" - The Jazz Jury [1996]
  12. "She Thinks I Still Care" - George Jones [1962]
  13. "Car Train" - The Jazz Jury [1996]
  14. "Pick Up the Pieces" - Average White Band [1974]
  15. "Go Daddy-O" - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  16. "I'm Beginning to See the Light" - Bobby Darin [1962]
Swingers Too! - More Music From... "Swingers"
  1. "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" - (Dean Martin) [1960]
  2. "Adam and Eve" - Paul Anka
  3. "Magic Man" {Single Version} - Heart [1976]
  4. "She's a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)" - (Sammy Davis, Jr.) with (Count Basie)
  5. "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" - (Dinah Washington)/(Brook Benton) [1960]
  6. "Down for Double" - (Mel Tormé)
  7. "Staying Alive" - (Marty & Elayne)
  8. "There'll Be Some Changes Made" - (Ann-Margret)
  9. "One Mint Julep" - (Xavier Cugat) [1964]
  10. "Gimme That Wine" - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross [1960]
  11. "Datin' with No Dough" - (Royal Crown Revue)
  12. "Bring Me Sunshine" - (Willie Nelson) [1968]


  1. ^ "SWINGERS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. February 18, 1997. Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Swingers at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Swingers". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Swingers". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  5. ^ Boucher, Geoff (August 31, 2008). "L.A.'s story is complicated, but they got it". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  6. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  7. ^ a b AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees

External links[edit]