This week:

Filthy says:
"Drown, fuckers, drown."

It takes balls the size of dump trucks to make a movie as trite, cliched and predictable as Swimfan. It takes testes like Yosemite granite to put so much labor into something so shitty, and to do it with so little care or effort.

Most crap-ass movies have some kernel of an original idea in them somewhere. Not in Swimfan. Not only is there nothing new, nobody even tries. I can see the Hollywood pitch meeting now.

Producer: What have you got?
Writer: Okay, I spent, like, three minutes at Carl's, Jr. coming up with this.
Producer: I like it already.
Writer: Ready? Are you sitting down?
Producer: No, wait, yes.
Writer: It doesn't matter anyway. This won't surprise you. Now, imagine a world exactly like the world you've seen a million times before. And imagine a plot exactly like a million plots before. A jilted lover turns psycho and stalks the jilting boy and tries to ruin his life.
Producer: (on the edge of seat) Sounds like a lot of other bad movies. I'm listening!
Writer: It's like Fatal Attraction meets Fatal Attraction, only less scary and way shoddier.
Producer: (picking up phone) Dixie? Please bring in one of those giant cardboard checks we give to writers. Make sure it has lots of zeroes on it. And pronto! (slamming down phone) I'm sold, kid! This is exactly the kind of tired, worn-out, bland thinking we love to reward in this town.

It takes monster nuts to have absolutely nothing to say, write a whole movie to prove it, and find a director and studio who share your lack of vision. Then you must have the conviction and strength of belief to see your ass-ripping turd through to completion. You have to wake up every morning and be excited to think "Today's the first day of the rest of my life barfing up someone else's ideas." You have to know that your story is entirely implausible and laughably absurd, but not care for one second. You have to be willing to cave in to every studio demand to make sure that the final product is as compromised as possible. You have to pretend you care, yet put something on the screen that shows you don't.

Despite Swimfan's cornhole-clogging shittiness, it inspired me. The handful of you who have read my reviews for a while know I've been listless; unemployed, mostly drunk, pissed at objects animate and inanimate and feeling personally insulted by the WB's fall lineup. I've been like a boat set adrift with no direction, blaming everyone but myself for the fact that I will die alone, poor, penniless and wearing someone else's old clothes. That's not a bad thing, really. I mean, it beats working. But having a reason to live is better.

And I found mine during a late screening of Swimfan, sitting in a sea of pimply and loud teenagers. I realized that all these kids are frittering the best years of their lives away at terrible movies. They need guidance, support and motivation, and the current school system isn't giving them that. I've got some ideas about how to get kids on the right path, so I'm becoming a guidance counselor. I can't tell you how great it feels to have this sort of purpose to my life; to know I will shape out future makes it all the sweeter.

See, I have a lot of motivational shit to say that I think today's youth will listen to, like "Shut the fuck up," and "You want me to put my boot up your ass?" Or, "If you fail that math test I'm going to come over to your house while you're sleeping and gut you like a catfish." I figure it won't be long before I'm making speeches to kids in gymnasiums and selling lots of books on tape. If you're a principal, send me an e-mail and I'll tell you my fees and the kind of shit I like in my dressing room. Also, no elementary schools. I don't think those kids are ready for my "Faces of Death"-style slide presentation.

Okay, now that we got that settled let's get back to the movie.

Swimfan takes place in one of those make-believe high schools that filmmakers dream up because it's more convenient than a real place. It's filled with somewhat attractive twenty-year-olds. There is no swarm of marching band geeks smug with the knowledge that they will someday inherit the earth. Of course, there is one lone "weird guy" who turns out not to be so weird (ooo, bet you couldn't see that coming). In this magical fairyland, the school has so much funding it can afford to drug-test its swim team, swimmers can miraculously shave five seconds off their 50-meter times in one week, and the city newspaper gives more press to swim meets than to elections or murders.

Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford) is the superstar swimmer with the gorgeous, passive-but-horny, girlfriend (Shiri Appleby). They are blissfully happy until that witchy Erika Christensen comes along. She's psychotic, you see. Since we're in the mystically, magical world of lazy moviemakers, we accept that Christensen is irresistibly hot. Really, she's got a fat, featureless face like a handmaid's reflection in the faraway mirror of a Jan ver Meer painting. But, they're asking us to go with it, and who are we to say no?

Bradford has a fling with Christensen, and then feels awful about it. He really only loves Appleby with all his teenage heart. Twenty minutes after his indiscretion, he also catches up with the audience and realizes that Christensen must have her dick in the peanut butter because she's fucking nuts. She won't let go, and yadda yadda. You know the rest. She goes bonkers, tries to kill Bradford's real girlfriend, gets him thrown off the swim team right before the big Stanford University scouts show up, and keeps popping around corners to ostensibly scare him. It's all done as sloppy as a wet burrito, but the ending is what boggles the mind most. I can't quite figure it out, because you'd need butcher shears to cut through the layers of improbability, impossibility and outright nonsense. It has something to do with Christensen killing some police, Bradford's now invalid girlfriend being moved from the hospital to his house, Bradford driving to New York City and back in a matter of minutes, videotaping a confession from Christensen, and being accused of trying to kill his girlfriend when he has an entirely real and verifiable alibi. There's also a big climactic fight where Bradford has to rescue his girlfriend from the bottom of a pool where she is bound to, apparently, the world's heaviest office chair.

That probably makes more sense than the movie did, and I forgot another dozen absurdities, I'm sure. It's all just gobbledygook piled on crap, wrapped in an enigma and then shoved up someone's ass. If you knew your story was a lousy rehash of old stories, wouldn't you at least try to have it make sense?

Or scary. Scary would be good too. But the vast majority of this movie is us watching a pouty kid come to terms with infidelity with his creepy girl. There is no building tension and no thrills until the last twenty minutes. Those, though, are too unreal to jolt and sillier than a pack of Girl Scouts jacked up on cotton candy and soda pop.

What's most amazing is that this lousy story is done in such a lousy way. If you're stealing from others, do like the Japanese and improve upon it before selling it back. The characters are duller than a set of TV-commercial steak knives a year later. Appleby is the uninterestingly sweet girlfriend without a single unique quality except that she sinks really well. Christenen is full-bore psycho, acting "intense" and annoying right from the beginning. And Bradford just mopes along, never having a reason to live. He's a lousy actor with a weird mouth and the charisma of a trash truck. His character has a Sonic Youth poster on his wall, but of course all we ever hear in the movie is godawful rap-metal chosen to sell soundtracks. That's the way the whole movie is: the makers are too fucking lazy to establish anything.

Although I am giving Swimfan One Finger for being such putrid bile, I am indebted to it. It gave me a reason to live, and hope for today's kids. You youngsters, if you want me to inspire you, just send me a note and I'll kick you in the spiritual nuts until you're coughing up the blood of success.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson - Kidnapped

Listening to
Tarnation - Gentle Creatures

Cold Fever

Bill Zweckerof Fox-TV Chicago

Igby Goes Down is "Amazing!"

One Hour Photo is "an Oscar Worth tour de force that will haunt you for a long, long time after leaving the theatre!"

Notice the spelling "theater." My goodness, One Hour Photo must be a very important film.


©2002 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All fucking rights Reserved