Friday, August 8, 2014

Deliciously inept in almost everyway, SWIMFAN - a water-logged 'Fatal Attraction' junior for collectors of the unintentionally bad - makes one yearn for the subtle nuances of 'The Crush.'

Ripped from the pages of the See 'Dick Run, See Jane Stalk Him' handbook, SWIMFAN is as Deliciously dumb as it gets. At the center is Erika Christensen – who caught movie-goers’ attention with her riveting performance in Traffic – generating (at least) half of the unintentional laughs in this aquatic would-be thriller.

Swimfan is the story of high school good-guy Jesse Bradford. who has cleaned up his act following trouble with drugs and break-ins (since when did doctors’ teen sons get sent off to ‘juvy’ for six months after problems like that, anyway?). He’s a competitive swimmer with lots of friends, the perfect girlfriend, and the attentions of seriously psychotic new girl in school Christensen. Following a highly unlikely tryst, Bradford soon finds himself the object of his fellow flinger’s ongoing affections and before you can say ‘Haven’t I seen this jilted psycho movie a thousand times before?" Bradford’s competitive swimming dreams are on the rocks and his friends are dropping like flies.

In case anyone wishes to suggest that we oldsters may have missed the appeal of this teenpic epic, I need to point out that my girlfriend Sylvia and I watched Swimfan with an audience filled with its target demographic (her two teen girls along with my oldest son Thad and his new boyfriend Enrique), and they were all laughing hysterically at Christenson’s supposedly menacing glare from various windows as her carnage unfolded below. It's like going to a house party and watching the host defend himself against a frothing ex-girlfriend. You don't want to call the cops. You want to call Domino's.

Some of the more ludicrous touches in this junior version of Fatal Attraction include a hospital where part-time teen-aged orderlies hand out medication to the patients (we don’t think we’ll be checking in there any time soon); where intensive care wards are entirely without staff (we’ve heard of health care cutbacks, but this is ridiculous); and where teen-aged volunteers wander the halls at night with stethoscopes hanging around their necks and scalpels in their hands (are the volunteers doing surgery now?). And Swimfan, just like Fatal Attraction, eventually goes overboard with a loony melodramatic denouement in which a high school swimming pool substitutes for a bathtub.

Maybe the script is responsible for the lack of character development (we’ve already described everything we learn about Bradford, and Christensen is nothing more than a girl from elsewhere who’s in town because her parents are away), and possibly the film’s modest budget may be responsible for supporting player Dan Hedaya’s embarrassingly bad hair, but we’re certainly not going to blame editor Sarah Flack entirely for the sloppy-looking and sometimes disjointed mess that we’re left with (particularly the atrocious ending of the film, which looks like it was literally picked up off the cutting room floor and taped into place). With this film (and with his follow-up effort HIDE AND SEEK) on his resume, perhaps it would be wise for director John Polson to return to his undistinguished acting career; there’s no hint that he knows how to direct.


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