Friday, May 15, 2009

Swimfan (2002)

Reviewed By: Billy

In honor of the recent success of Fatal Attraction Part 3 (aka Obsessed), I decided it was once again necessary to bring attention to the oft-overlooked Fatal Attraction Part 2 (aka Swimfan). You’ve probably already figured out that around these parts, we like sequels. This, of course, is because sequels always improve upon the originals. That said, please don’t think we overlook the laziest kind of sequel – the updated remake. You know, when studio execs sitting around the morning meeting decide it’s time to bring back a classic to a new generation, and rather than actually expend the energy of writing a new script and thinking about how a story would naturally evolve, they just re-write the old one, setting it in a warm, sunny climate and utilizing “hot” new actors fresh off a CW show. Here’s how I imagine one of those studio meetings:

EXEC ONE: You know what movie really scared me? Fatal Attraction.
EXEC TWO: Yeah, let’s do a sequel.
EXEC ONE: OK. Think we could get Michael Douglas?
EXEC ONE: How about Jesse Metcalf?

And so, we end up with Swimfan, starring Erika Christensen, Erika Christensen’s crazy blonde hair, and Jesse Metcalf. Actually, it’s Jesse Bradford – but honestly, can anyone tell the difference? Anyway, it doesn’t matter who’s in it; nobody – and I mean nobody – has anything even resembling charisma in this movie, unless you count Erika Christensen’s crazy blonde hair, which easily steals the show.

So, Swimfan takes all the major conventions of Fatal Attraction and plunks them down in the middle of one of those great open-campus, sun-drenched high schools you only get in the post-Scream teen slasher genre. Jesse Bradford-Metcalf is the star swimmer – yes, this school has a star swimmer – and has a healthy, loving relationship (which is extremely realistic for high schoolers, right?) with a cute brunette who keeps telling him how proud she is of him – which, of course, means he’s going to cheat on her. Suddenly, one morning in a completely empty school hallway, Jesse runs into Erika Christensen, looking as alarming and unhealthy as Joan Osborne after a weeklong binge on Krispy Kremes and Bud Light Lime. Erika is the new girl in school, and the two engage in the kind of cutesy romantic-comedy dialogue where the characters keep calling each other by their first and last names. Witness:

MADISON: I’m Madison, by the way. Madison Bell.
BEN: Ben Cronin. Hi.
MADISON: What’s the letter for, Ben Cronin?
BEN: The letter is for swimming, Madison Bell.

Cutesy dialogue like this can only lead to one thing – and soon Jesse has Erika up against the side of a pool in one of the most awkward sex scenes in recent memory. Pool sex scenes never really work unless Elizabeth Berkeley is convulsing atop the water like a squid hit in the brain with a harpoon. In this one, it’s worth noting that the two are sexing it up right next to a sign on the wall that says “deep” – as in deep end – a shudder-inducing, repulsive subliminal message that director John Polson probably still feels proud of.

Anyway, right in the middle of the dirty deed, Erika asks Jesse to say that he loves her. And he does! If there is any man reading this who could keep an erection after a one-night stand asked the same thing, then he’s a far stronger man than I. But, our Jesse is, after all, a star swimmer – and Erika is clearly an irresistible sexpot worth risking everything for.

Except ...she’s not. This, my friends, is what we call Fundamental Flaw #1. Take a look at the pictures, people…Erika Christiansen is gross in this movie. To believe that anyone would cheat on their perfect partner with someone who has all the cinema red flags of being crazy (curly hair…plays cello…perfectly matched wardrobe) is just silly. And let’s turn the tables. Why exactly did Madison pick this joke to obsess over? Jesse Bradford-Metcalf spends the entire movie with that irritating trademark sneer across his face. You know...he’s kind of snickering, kind of smirking…and ends up looking like his brain’s been turned off mid-sentence:

Really, now that I think about it, this pair might just be perfect for each other. Speaking of brains being turned off, here’s a snippet from one of their online conversations:

Anyway, back to the Fundamental Flaws…#2: I’m not a big Fatal Attraction fan – that little person who plays Michael Douglas’s daughter creeps me out – but at least the film made sense because Michael Douglas had something to lose in his affair with Glenn Close. After all, he had a wife and child and there was always the threat that they’d find out and he’d lose his family. In Swimfan, Jesse’s affair with Erika risks nothing but nausea at having seen her in the raw. The movie has already set up that after graduation, Jesse and his girlfriend will likely end up at colleges across the country from one another. This, to any sane person, would indicate that their high-school romance will come to a crashing halt as soon as one of them end up on the wrong-side of a beer bong at a frat party. So what's the big deal if they just break up a few months early and get it over with?

The only thing Jesse is risking is his swimming career – which brings us to Fundamental Flaw #3: Swimming is not a career-making sport. Unless you're Michael Phelps, that is...I'm not really sure what else he does. Anyway, it might get Jesse a college scholarship -- but hell, chances are he'd get kicked off the team for being such a dope. And really...if Ben Cronin, as a high school senior, is just now getting attention for his swimming, then I'm guessing it's too late. So if Erika’s craziness makes Jesse lose concentration and blow the big meet, she’s probably doing him a favor.

Anyway, I could go over the rest of the plot, but you already know that Erika is going to do bad things to people, and that eventually she’ll have one of those great freak-out scenes where she screams, “No-one will ever love you like I love you!!!!” And if you were paying any attention to the earlier scene where Erika mentions that she can’t swim, you know exactly how Jesse is finally going to kill her in the end (and by the way, a diet consisting of Krispy Kremes and Bud Light Lime apparently makes you sink faster than concrete block). And if you’ve seen Fatal Attraction, you know Jesse is going to end up back with his girlfriend…which, again, makes no sense, because THEY ARE GOING TO BE SEPARATED BY AN ENTIRE COUNTRY in just a few months. None-the-less, this brainless tacked-on ending will make you totally forget that Jesse Bradford-Metcalf actually brought all of this upon himself by having completely uncomfortable pool sex with Erika Christensen and her crazy blonde hair. Does it make any sense? No. Is it a good time in front of the TV? Sure it is!

THREE FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS = THREE FINGERS (one of which is for this character, who continues the proud tradition of Valentine's Jeremy Melton and Color of Night's Richie:)


  1. Do I have to be the first person to admit that I dont overly hate this film? Anyone? Fine. I was expecting the worse and though conventional, it wasnt the train wreck it should have been.

  2. Billy,

    With respect to Carl, I love this movie because it is a train wreck. Great pictures!! I'll bet you will be surprised to know that my favorite shot is the last one.

    I can't stop laughing as I re-read it!


  3. haha, nice review. i forgot this film existed. talk about strange casting...

  4. In my world, all I see when a cello playing chick with curly hair and a perfectly matched wardrobe enters my field of vision is a gigantic green flag.

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning Elizabeth Berkly's prowess in the pool. Just imagining her convulsing on top of Kyle McLachlan's chlorine stained cock brings me a fair of peace and tranquility.

  5. Yum-Yum,
    You are so welcome for the "Showgirls" shout-out -- my brother and I try to insert that movie into conversation whenever possible.

    What do you mean strange casting? When you think of hot, sexy young couples, Erika and Jesse don't immediately pop into your mind?

    I am surprised, considering you're the one who BEGGED for the shot of Erika holding the camera (which is my personal favorite).


  6. excellent review! And awesome blog guys.

  7. Thanks to this, I've just realized why I never liked Jesse Bradford-Metcalf... It's the sneer!

  8. Cinema Du Meep-

    Oh, yes...that sneer haunts my nightmares. Really -- how does one even learn a facial expression like that?


  9. um by strange casting, i meant perfect casting of course! :P


  11. I cannot stand this movie but my wife LOVES it. She always wants to watch it when it's on and it drives me nuts.

  12. LOL! This review had me laughing all the way because IT'S TRUE! Still, I dig this flick for what it is - a remake for the teen crowd. It really could have been a lot worse but it's sort of a guilty pleasure for me. I do think the male lead should have been punished just for telling that crazy bitch that he loved her. No sex is that good. NONE.

    This film would have been better if someone had boiled a rabbit. Oh well.

    And any SHOWGIRLS reference works for me at anytime.

  13. You definitely pegged Erika Christiansen/Madison Bell-from her diaphanous,ever-growing blonde hair,to her cherubic body,she's just sorta.. puffy all over.Not the sort of chick to lost your nuts over when you've already hooked a lady-on-the-street-but-freaky-ho-in-bed artsy babe who's hot for your rod.And Madison's cankles ( unsightly calf/ankle conglomeration)! Lord!

    And Christopher Dante (DeBello) is supposed to be mentally retarded,and perpetually crapping into an adult diaper the whole time,right?