14 June 2011
Swinging with the Finkels
2011, 85mins, 15
Director: Jonathan Newman
Writer: Jonathan Newman
Cast includes: Martin Freeman, Mandy Moore, Melissa George, Jonathan Silverman, Jerry Stiller
UK Release Date: 17th June 2011
Productions like “Swinging with the Finkels” are what give the British film industry a bad name. A disastrously structured and painfully unfunny feature, “Swinging with the Finkels” is a creatively bankrupt exercise in broad and offensively imbecilic comedy. Writer/director Jonathan Newman clearly wants the movie to work as both a saucy farce and a perceptive commentary on the challenges of marriage, but the finished product ultimately satisfies neither of those aims. Instead we’re left with 85 minutes of cucumber stimulated masturbation, Martin Freeman’s tired shtick and various dismal editorial choices.
Alvin (Martin Freeman) and Sarah (Mandy Moore) have been married for nearly a decade, but are now starting to feel the pressures of their lifelong commitment. The passion has all but disappeared from the bedroom, leaving the pair in a permanent state of frustration. After seeking advice from some friends (including Melissa George) Alvin and Sarah decide to swing, hoping that lusty exposure to another couple might stoke the dying embers of their own romance. However things don’t go to plan, leaving them to ponder if swinging was in fact an appropriate course of action.
Newman stages the picture poorly, designing the opening half as a parade of poor sketches without a human core. Lactating breasts, STDS and kooky grandparents are about as original as the film gets, Newman mining obvious fodder to try and generate a few cheap chuckles. Of course the material is thoroughly witless, and Newman’s comic timing leaves much to be desired. The filmmaker appears to have styled the picture in the vein of a tacky sitcom, but even worse is his inability to concoct a steady comedic rhythm. Granted even a master of the craft like Judd Apatow would have a tough job making these limp jokes work, but Newman’s inability to select the right cuts or inject any energy into proceedings is a killer flaw. “Swinging with the Finkels” is not only tragically mirthless, but also decidedly lifeless.
The central character are undefined, Freeman and Moore both giving fluffy and insubstantial performances. They also share no chemistry, robbing “Swinging with the Finkels” of any measure of soul or humanity. It’s a cold and unlikable movie, the crass tone and robotic leads doing equal damage on this front. The supporting players are nothing but a group of genre stereotypes, Melissa George in particular forced to mope and whine her way through the story in a grossly simpleminded fashion as Sarah’s best friend. Granted most of the actors in this foul creation are worthy of little better (Jonathan Silverman and Jerry Stiller are especially terrible), but on her day George is capable of fine work, so one hopes her agent at least got a stern talking to after she viewed the final product.
The movie tries feebly to articulate its stance on monogamy, Newman failing to say anything of note on the state of modern domestic relationships. Earlier this year the Farrelly brothers helmed “Hall Pass”, a typically raunchy offering that tackled many of the same themes sighted here. That movie was patchy and on the whole fairly mediocre, but it made a much better fist of balancing comedy and marital introspection than this horrendous dross. I strongly advise you to avoid this amateurish and wildly misjudged nonsense at all costs.
A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011