I think we need to see other films. It’s not me, it’s you.
SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS
Directed by Jonathan Newman. Starring Mandy Moore, Martin Freeman, Melissa George, Jonathan Silverman.84 mins
Rating: Half a Star/Five
In cinemas June 17
PAINFULLY BAD NON ROM- NON COM ISN’T SMART, SEXY OR SASSY, DESPITE ITS PROGRESSIVE PREMISE
Swinging with the Finkels, a (non)rom-(non)com from (non)director Jonathan Newman is being pitched as a sexed-up Richard Curtis comedy. Now Curtis has had his stupid moments – Bridget Jones 2, having Hugh Grant chose Andie “Is it raining, I hadn’t noticed” Dowell over the goddess that is Kristen Scott Thomas – but never, NEVER has he made a film so offensively stupid to warrant such a slanderous comparison.
In its opening “hilarious” scenes, Mandy Moore, a woman whose husband (Martin Freeman) no longer desires her, has never heard of a vibrator and so masturbates with an apparently turbo-jet cucumber (she didn’t hear about that E.Coli scare then?) that launches itself from her vagina into the crotch of her on-looking grandfather. I remember when something similar happened to me – oh how we laughed!
I’m joking, obviously. That happened in private, so no-one laughed. And neither did anyone watching this goddawful excuse for a film. Moore and Freeman play an incredibly boring bourgeoise couple who swan around in stunning sets (and sets they definitely are – Newman’s direction is so inept that everything, from the sets to the lighting to the horrible dialogue looks and feels like a big-budget school play) moaning about how they never have sex anymore. So instead of you know, having sex with each other, they decide the only solution is to swing, and that the most attractive candidates are Angus Deayton & his wife.
Can I just repeat that: Mandy Moore thinks the best she can do is to marry an uninterested Martin Freeman & to have sex with Angus Deayton. I thought rom-coms were meant to fill women with unrealistic expectations, not men.
But despite managing to kiss Deayton without falling to her knees screaming “I’m Mandy fucking Moore! I’ve made out with Adrian Grenier! Who’s this middle aged guy?!”, Moore’s acting skills are completely wasted. Having previously proven herself capable of playing not only charming, fluffy romantic leads (Chasing Liberty, A Walk To Remember) but comic sociopaths (American Dreamz, Saved!), here she’s reduced to playing a vacuous, two-dimensional mess, while the usually charming Freeman is similarly unlikeable.
It’s a shame the whole thing is so ridiculous, because the premise could have led to an interesting and biting look at the difficulties facing married couples stuck in a rut. But there’s nothing remotely smart, sophisticated or sexy about Swinging With The Finkels. The couple’s relationship or their personal feelings are never explored in depth, there are approximately two jokes in the film and – crucially – there’s no sex. The pitch may be pushing this as a modern, progressive examination of relationships, but Newman lacks the courage of his title’s convictions, cowardly deferring to predicable rom-com fare.
Newman should have listened to his own characters’ advice: “If you sit on the fence, you’re going to get splinters up your ass.”
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