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Now Playing On Netflix: Swingers

Who’s the big winner here tonight in the casino? Huh? Mikey, that’s who! Mikey’s the big winner! Mikey wins!”

If you’re a fan of indie films, cool comedies, and/or the Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn on-screen, off-screen friendship, then Netflix has made you the big winner as well. Among the huge bundle of movies loaded onto the streaming network’s service on January 1st is the 1996 indie comedy Swingers, starring Favreau, Vaughn, Ron Livingston (Office SpaceThe Conjuring), Patrick Van Horn (Encino ManFour Christmases), Alex Désert (High Fidelity) and Heather Graham (Boogie NightsThe Hangover).

Swingers tells the story of struggling comedian/actor Mike (Favreau) who, after his girlfriend of six years broke it off with him, moves from New York to Los Angeles in hopes of starting over. Looking to raise his spirits, his friend Trent (Vaughn) and the rest of his crew introduce Mike to the LA stylish neo-lounge night scene, and hopefully attract a few women along the way. This project was the second film to be directed by Doug Liman (Go, The Bourne IdentityMr. & Mrs. Smith) and while the film was seen as a breakout performance for Vaughn, the entire screenplay was written by Favreau himself.

The film is filled with wisecracking humor, ’90s night life settings, a surprise trip to Las Vegas and plenty of classic film and pop culture references. One such scene involves a round table discussion/debate over whether Quentin Tarantino steals everything from Martin Scorsese. In the very next scene, the film reenacts the slow-motion walking scene from Reservoir Dogs. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek homage to Tarantino given the debate that occurs beforehand.

This film marked the beginning of the Favreau/Vaughn duo that would occur multiple times in future films. Whether or not you’re a fan of the two on-screen (this writer admits that he has a Favreau/Vaughn bias, even in their not-so-successful films), this film is worth a viewing for the uninitiated. Farvreau and Vaughn are perfectly paired as a couple of struggling actors trying to make it in Hollywood, which was easy for them at the time because in reality, they actually were a couple of struggling actors trying to make it in Hollywood. So, if you enjoy the type of slick humor you would find in Ocean’s Eleven but on an indie budget with relatable characters, carve out 96 minutes in your day and press play.

Side note: look out for the appearance of the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. This film was released as Swing music was making its comeback in the late ’90s.

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