Swingers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though generally decent, the picture showed the limitations of the film’s low-budget origins.
Sharpness generally looked adequate. At times, the image seemed somewhat soft and fuzzy, and definition occasionally appeared a bit weak. However, most of the movie came across as reasonable accurate and distinct. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but some moderately prominent edge enhancement showed up on a few occasions. Grain appeared throughout much of the movie and became somewhat intrusive at times. I also saw periodic examples of speckles and marks, but the print flaws didn’t present too many distractions.
Colors varied. The neon of the Vegas scenes looked bright and vibrant, and some daytime exteriors also showed vivid and lively tones. However, other scenes offered hues that appeared thick and dense, and skintones often tended to appear orange-tinted. Black levels seemed somewhat muddy, while shadow detail was a bit heavy. Some scenes looked good, such as the piece in the bar with Nikki; that sequence demonstrated good contrast and definition in the low-light shots. However, most of those scenes came across as somewhat flat and murky. Overall, Swingers always remained watchable, but it couldn’t overcome its budgetary restrictions.
Similar concerns greeted the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Swingers. The soundfield offered a fairly modest affair. Music often demonstrated good stereo imaging, but the rest of the track tended to remain largely monaural. During some broader scenes, the effects spread well across the spectrum, but these stayed in the realm of general ambience most of the time. The surrounds also kicked in on occasion, such as during party scenes, but they didn’t add a lot to the package. The soundfield maintained a modest setting.
Audio quality appeared acceptable but flawed. Speech displayed minor signs of edginess at times, but dialogue usually came across as reasonably natural and distinct, and I encountered no problems related to intelligibility. Effects appeared clean and accurate but they lacked much dimensionality most of the time. They never seemed distorted or problematic, but they didn’t appear terribly strong either. Music varied depending on the source, but most of the songs and score sounded fairly bright and lively, and they displayed pretty solid bass response much of the time. Unfortunately, effects and speech bled to the side channels on occasion. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Swingers seemed competent but not much better than that.
This new special edition of Swingers marks its second DVD release. I never saw the old one, but apparently it included virtually no supplements. Happily, the reissue corrects that problem, as it packs a nice roster of extras.
We find two audio commentaries. Actually, the first offers an “action commentary” with co-director/writer/actor Jon Favreau and actor Vince Vaughn, both of whom sat together for this running, screen-specific piece. What’s an “action commentary”? Ala the Barry Sonnenfeld/Tommy Lee Jones track from Men In Black, the participants come equipped with a telestrator, and they use it to highlight various onscreen elements. Though the commentary works perfectly well without the visuals, those elements add a fun touch to the proceedings.
As for the commentary itself, for the most part it provides an engaging track. The long friendship between Favreau and Vaughn comes through, as they seem casual and comfortable with each other. They relate a number of production details as well as ways in which the movie mirrored their lives at the time. On occasion, the guys simply describe the action onscreen, and they also often slip into Farrelly mode; for those moments, they just tell us the names of various performers. Nonetheless, the actors track usually works pretty well.
After this, we locate a “production commentary” with director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrione, both of whom also were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Essentially a lesson in guerilla filmmaking, I think this track provides a stronger effort than the one with Vaughn and Favreau. I like the latter piece, but the production commentary seems more informative and compelling. We learn all sorts of details about the resources used to overcome the film’s extreme budgetary restrictions, and the overall effort seems lively and engaging.
Next we move to Making It In Hollywood, a collection of four separate featurettes: “Art Imitates Life: Writing the Story”, “Life Creates Art: Getting Swingers Made”; “Life Imitates Art: Swingers Culture”, and “Art Creates Life: Life After Swingers”. These programs last between nine minutes, 26 seconds and 17 minutes, 21 seconds for a total of 49 minutes, 17 seconds of material. In addition to movie clips, outtakes, and production stills, we get new interviews with Jon Favreau, Doug Limon, Vince Vaughn, Steve Mirrione, actors Ron Livingston and Brooke Langton, line producer Nicole LaLoggia, producer Victor Simkins, Derby owner Tony Gower, Dresden Rooms owner Carl Ferari, and performers Marty and Elayne.
The first two segments cover the genesis of the project and its production. This offers a nice romp through those issues, though it’ll seem somewhat redundant for folks who already listened to the commentaries, as “Story” and “Made” repeat a fair amount of information heard there. The other two pieces focus on the movie’s influence in the culture and on the careers of its participants. These provide a lot of material not found elsewhere, so they seem more valuable. Overall, the whole package of “Making It In Hollywood” nicely details various aspect of the production and the movie’s afterlife, and the documentary merits a look.
Inside The Cutting Room Floor, we get five additional takes. Each of these runs between 55 seconds and four minutes, 22 seconds for a total of 13 minutes and 25 seconds of footage. Essentially the clips offer extended and alternate versions of material that ended up in the movie. For instance, during the Vegas trailer sequence, Trent talks about one of his TV jobs. This material seems decent but it doesn’t present anything special.
Within the Swingers Mania Gallery, we find a stillframe collection. It includes 10 screens of material. We see ads for the film plus some promo materials and a prop or two. It’s a small but useful package.
For something unusual, check out Swing Blade, a short parody. It combines aspects of Swingers with the lead character from Sling Blade for this three-minute, 27-second spoof. The concept seems funnier than the execution, but it appears moderately entertaining.
Cast and Crew includes simple filmographies for actors Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, Patrick Van Horn, Alex Desert, and Heather Graham plus director Doug Liman and line producer Nicole LaLoggia. From the main menu, you’ll discover a Sneak Peeks area that includes trailers for Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and 40 Days and 40 Nights. Oddly, no trailer for Swingers itself appears anywhere.
Already established as a cult classic, I thought Swingers didn’t quite match up with my expectations. However, it offered a generally amusing and intriguing experience that will probably hold up well to additional viewings. The DVD presented mediocre picture and sound that likely were limited due to the film’s low budget. The package includes a very nice set of supplements, as it tosses in two good audio commentaries among other elements. Although I didn’t like the movie enough to highly recommend it, I do think Swingers merits a look.