Jon Favreau scripted the witty and winsome Swingers in which he also stars as a wannabe actor seduced by the Las Vegas lounge-room lifestyle. Despite wearing its indie credentials on its sleeve, this went on to become a cult hit and co-star Vince Vaughn suddenly went from struggling actor to Hollywood star. Likewise precocious young director Doug Liman graduated to big budget fare like The Bourne Identity and Mr & Mrs Smith. In this two-disc Special Edition DVD, the lads look back at the film that put their careers on the upswing.
Four substantial featurettes draw a detailed picture of how Swingers came to be and influence a new generation of Rat Pack wannabes. In Art Imitates Life Jon Favreau confesses that the script was "a comedic treatment of my life". In the role of his obnoxious buddy, even Vaughn is playing himself. Favreau explains their unlikely real-life friendship, saying, "I never wanted to hang out with Vince. I always saw him as something of a troublemaker. But then I was bored..."
Budding filmmakers should have their notepads at the ready for Life Creates Art where Favreau reveals the convoluted and arduous process of getting his script made. It took about a year-and-a-half to raise the money; Ron Livingston (who plays Rob) recalls that Middle-East arms dealers promised to put up part of the cash, "but the deal fell through". (We assume he's joking.) Doug Liman also talks about getting involved with the vision to "make it look like a student film". A good thing too since he only had a shoestring budget!
Art Creates Life is a comical look at how the success of Swingers affected the people who made it happen. Favreau confesses that he and Vaughn actually became parodies of themselves, rolling around Vegas and splashing their cash (mostly Vaughn's cash) to impress the ladies. Similarly Life Imitates Art looks at how the film re-energised lounge-room subculture and spawned catchphrases like, "You're money!" Liman notes with amusement (and some dismay) that, "All the people at Miramax New York were talking like they did in the film."
Swing With It
In a shared commentary with editor Stephen Mirrione, Liman talks in-depth about the guerrilla tactics he used when making Swingers. He's very open about what he did and didn't know about shooting a movie - particularly as it was his first time as cinematographer. In one logistically complicated scene, he admits, "We were not sophisticated enough to do this shot, but it still worked in its roughness." Meanwhile in an entertaining actors' commentary, Favreau and Vaughn compare their memories of a shoot that was "highly illegal and dangerous". They also point out where the movie touches upon moments in their real lives (mostly in trying to chat up girls), plus Vaughn offers useful tips on blackjack.
Five deleted scenes are best described as raw - both in terms of the grainy visuals and bristling creative energy. There's obviously a lot of improvisation in scenes where the guys are just hanging out at a diner or playing video games and it's all great stuff. The same goes for short film Swingblade, a bizarre but hilarious cross between Swingers and Slingblade.
Also thrown into this excellent Special Edition package are storyboards and a gallery of concept art. Thoughtful, funny and jammed with behind-the-scenes trivia, this DVD is definitely money.