Directed by: Jonathan Newman
Produced by: Philip von Alvensleben
Screenplay by: Jonathan Newman
Starring: Mandy Moore
Music by: Mark Thomas
Cinematography by: Dirk Nel
Editing by: Eddie Hamilton
Distributed by: Moving Pictures Film and Television
Wild Bunch Distribution
Release date(s): June 17, 2011 (United Kingdom and Ireland)
Country: United Kingdom
Budget: $3 million
Gross revenue unknown
Here's another one of those intro's. You're probably getting a bit sick of me telling you what movies I am going to watch at the cinema, so I will give you a little update on some movies I have watched that are not from 2011. Over the past week, I have seen Away From Her, a very good film with solid performances by Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, and that isn't overbearingly preachy, despite being a film about Alzheimer's. Also, last night I watched City Of Ghosts, Matt Dillon's directorial debut, which is a decent enough flick with some interesting plot construction and atmosphere that in the last reel completely fumbles the ball. However, the best and most original film I have seen in some time is Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Being a geek, originality is something hard to come across these days so this film, a rollicking, relentless assault on the senses, with montage editing that would give Sergei Eisenstein nausea, a pulsating industrial soundtrack and dense thematic content, is really worth seeking out.
Once again, of course, I am moving away from the topic of discussion, but in this case, I would like to think that there is ample reason. That is not to say that this is a bad movie, far from it, in fact. I am an objective critic who addresses the film's he has seen with an open mind going in, regardless of the fact that Swinging With The Finkels is a bad title that is just a few steps above 13 Going On Dick. Sorry, I know, bad joke, pedophilia is not a laughing matter. Don't blame me, I stole the damn line! Anyway, Swinging With The Finkels follows Sarah and Martin Finkel (Mandy Moore and Martin Freeman), a married couple who are having some issues, particularly in the sex department. So what we have for sure is a sex-comedy of the Carry On flavour that 'simon-alphastar' of IMDb describes as "funny, fresh and original." As 'he' says, "If you enjoyed 'Something Like Mary' - you will definitely enjoy this." Sometimes I really feel Armond White's pain.
As per usual, we'll start with the good. Martin Freeman in any movie, regardless of it's quality, adds a thoroughly likeable presence to the proceedings, even if much of the acting consists of the notorious 'Martin Freeman look,' which me and Daniel Kelly spent much of the film's duration noting. Finally, there is at least one pretty funny gag involving a cucumber which would have made the basis for a good Comic Relief sketch.
That's it! At least that would be it, if it were not for the fact that I also have to highlight the bad as well as the good. Let's start with the soundtrack, in particular the use of Edvard Grieg's piece 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King.' The piece was famously used as the whistle of the child murderer in Fritz Lang's M, as a leitmotif to signify his changing temperament. In Swinging With The Finkels, the irony and humour of the piece is used to it's more literal meaning, signifying something that could interpreted (not implied) as "funny, fresh and original." For the first thirty minutes of the film, it must have been used over a dozen times, and every time I heard it my temper flared, to the point where I was physically uncomfortable and visibly unsettled. This is the mood for most of the film. Structurally, the script is episodic, which does not mean bad, look at Pulp Fiction. However, the episodic nature of this script is used as a structural balance, if you could call it that, to string together a number of really bad jokes. The characters are dull, cliche and poorly written, which obviously effected the performances of the actor's, poor Martin Freeman being reduced to giving a ninety-minuted 'Martin Freeman look' that came across as something between bewilderment and frustration. Worst of all, it tries to betray it's fundamentally smutty, pseudo-intellectual, leery (and sneery) sense of humour that is above that of the commoners to try and say 'you know what, there is more to life (and this film) than sex jokes.'
I think this leaves me at a good point to conclude, because thinking about this movie, although perhaps good therapy, does me no good in the heat of the moment. Bar one good laugh and the forever likeable presence of Martin Freeman, I thoroughly despised Swinging With The Finkels. The script just screws up in every way possible, it is a poorly handled piece of work that it's director Jonathan Newman should have really noted, but then again, he also wrote the damn thing, so he is immune to it's potential charms or lack thereof. He is near enough a dead-cert for induction as a Horseman Of The Apocalypse in next year's Best and Worst. Maybe the leader of the gang Michael Bay can have a whipping boy for the next year! I haven't felt this sore a headache watching a movie since A Serbian Film, a film which I would say is far worse and even less tasteful. I found it very insulting, patronising and demeaning, and now I might not be able to watch Fritz Lang's M without In The Hall Of The Mountain King reminding me of this. As my friend's at Spill.com would say "Fuck you!" See what you have reduced me to, I'm swearing and quoting people now! Good night and good luck, "Kiss my ass, lousy bastard" (quoth Jim Ross), your movie really sucked!
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 1.5/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Sore
P.S. I hope you agree, the title does indeed suck! And Jonathan Silverman's performance is rubbish!