The Great Scenes: “All Growns Up” from SWINGERS

The Movie: Swingers (1996)

Spoiler Level: High

The Setup: After a night of barhopping in Hollywood, three friends end up at a diner for some late-night breakfast. Throughout the film, the hero Mike (Jon Favreau) struggles to hit his stride with the ladies. However, on this particular night, Mike managed to make a connection with a ‘beautiful baby’ (Heather Graham) he met and danced with at the storied Brown Derby nightclub. When Mike’s friends Sue (Patrick Van Horn) and the drunken Trent (Vince Vaughn) attempt to offer him additional advice on how to handle the new situation, Mike refuses it, confidently declaring “I have it under control.” This ignites a wild burst of emotion in Trent, who explodes into a rowdy exaltation of his friend who, until this point, needed all the help he could get.

 

 

Why It’s Great: Like many scenes in Swingers, this one initially seems to be about Mike… but soon becomes (thanks to Trent) all about TRENT… at least that’s how it may superficially appear.

While Trent does, thanks to his state of inebriation, become the center of attention, his attention happens to be solely focused on Mike. Throughout the movie, Trent takes numerous opportunities to offer Mike romantic advice and urges him to be more confident in his romantic endeavors. At times his efforts seem futile, but that doesn’t deter him from believing in Mike and continuing to encourage him.

In this scene, When Mike says (and means) that he has things “under control,” Trent believes him, and his overflowing sense of joy bursts out in a display of unadulterated emotion. I might liken it to how a little-league baseball coach feels when, after weeks or perhaps months of frustrating instruction, a player who might have seemed hopeless finally figures out how to correctly throw the ball.

Men are, at their core, competitive beings. This scene illustrates the fact that men are also capable of deriving joy not only from their own success, but also from the success of others. Trent is genuinely happy for Mike; so much so that the only way he can think of to express it is via the borderline-primal act of jumping on top of a table, yelling, and discarding items of his clothing.

When I saw this scene for the first time, I got so caught up in its intense, comedic spontaneity that I failed to recognize how it movingly defines the relationship between the movie’s two heroes. In a broader sense, it illustrates a basic human trait that defines the progress that the human race managed to make between the eras of pre-civilization and civilization itself: the ability to root for one another.

“Yeahhh! Dig that!”