Hi everyone, Bryan here….
Every time I watch this scene, I find myself wincing, shrinking in my seat and covering my eyes, as if I’m watching it for the first time. I hate to say it, but I think we’ve all been here before. Maybe not as drastic as this, but some form of this – – we’ve all done it. This might be the most awkward and painful scene to watch in movie history, which is weird because it’s just one still shot of someone calling another person on the phone.
The answering machine scene from Swingers is one of my favorite scenes for multiple reasons. It’s a simple camera set up, but there’s so much going on here underneath the surface. We see our protagonist Mike (Jon Favreau) just completely implode in a matter of a couple of minutes, and sinks even further down into his depression. The night started off good for Mike here, but things didn’t turn out in his favor, all due to his confidence and self-pity. Swingers was made by Doug Liman and Jon Favreau and was based off of Favreau’s life when he moved out to Los Angeles.
The actors in the film, including Vince Vaughn and Ron Livingston were his actual friends, where their characters were based off their real-life personas. The film came out in 1996. This was before social media, smart phones, texting, and other various forms of communication that we take for granted now. In fact, the only way to get ahold of someone was to call them on a landline. If they didn’t answer, you better hope they had an actual answering machine that you can play messages back. This did not help Mike in Swingers by any means.
After Mike had a successful night out after his bad break up with his long time girlfriend, he gets a nice, beautiful woman’s number. His friends try and tell him to play it cool and not call her for a day or two. That same night, when it’s too late to call, Mike has a moment of weakness. Well, it’s more like a psychotic fucking breakdown, where he calls the girl he just met to leave a sweet, innocent message to say he had a great time. This turns into a hardcore disaster of epic proportions, which I still get high anxiety upon watching each time.
Mike ends up calling her back many times and leaving message after message, which just nose dives into the ground quickly. It’s such a brilliant, awkward, funny, horrifying scene. I love this scene so much, because it has everything. I could only hope that Jon Favreau will have Iron Man do a similar scene in a future Avengers movie.