Review: ‘The Swing of Things,’ starring Chord Overstreet, Olivia Culpo, Adelaide Kane and Luke Wilson

July 14, 2020

by Carla Hay

Olivia Culpo and Chord Overstreet in “The Swing of Things” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“The Swing of Things”

Directed by Matt Shapira

Culture Representation: Taking place in Los Angeles and Jamaica, the sex comedy “The Swing of Things” has a predominantly white cast (with some black people) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A straight-laced American bride and groom’s wedding plans are drastically altered when a plane detour causes them to have their wedding at a swingers’ resort in Jamaica.

Culture Audience: “The Swing of Things” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching badly made comedies that are a waste of time.

Luke Wilson in “The Swing of Things” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

It seems like the main motivation for “The Swing of Things” cast to make this movie was to get an expenses-paid trip to Jamaica. It certainly couldn’t have been the mind-numbing, awful screenplay of this so-called comedy. “The Swing of Things” (sloppily directed by Matt Shapira) is not only humorless but it’s also incredibly dull for a movie that tries to pretend that it’s wild and edgy because most of the story takes place at a swingers’ resort.

The most pathetic aspect of how this moronic movie got made is that five people are credited with writing “The Swing of Things” screenplay: Patrick McErlean, Christopher Hewitson, Clayton Hewitson, Justin Jonas and Scotty Mullen. It’s proof of that old cliché: “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” In this case, the “broth” is the type of rotten garbage that is an apt description for this stinker of a movie, where most of the acting is so bad that you might experience some brain rot if you keep watching.

It takes a while (the first third of the movie) for “The Swing of Things” to actually get to the destination wedding trip that is supposed to be at the center of the story. The movie first introduces viewers to the future bride and groom, and then shows how they met. By the way, these two “lovebirds”—Tommy (played by Chord Overstreet) and Laura Jane McGursky (played by Olivia Culpo)—have no believable chemistry together. But even if they did, it still wouldn’t help this ridiculously horrible movie.

Tommy works for an advertising agency that’s run by an egotistical, crude sexist named Ricky (played by Aleksander Vayshelboym), who treats women as nothing more than body parts he can play with sexually. At the ad agency’s headquarters in Los Angeles, the company’s past print ad campaigns are proudly on display as posters on the walls of the conference room. One of these poster displays is of a beer ad that shows a beer bottle’s contents being poured down a nearly naked bikini bottom of a woman, to simulate a “golden shower” while another woman is posed underneath with her mouth open, as if she’s ready swallow. That’s what passes for “humor” in this movie.

Tommy and Ricky are stressed-out because they have an important meeting with a rich client named Jon Johnson (played by Jon Lovitz, doing his usual smarmy schtick) to pitch an ad campaign for the client’s jet packs, which Jon wants to sell to the public as high-priced adventure toys. Tommy’s ad slogan for the jet packs is “Making the future fun again.” Jon (who’s surrounded by two trophy girlfriends and a small group of bodyguards) isn’t completely sold until Tommy comes up with an idea to describe the jet-pack experience that gets Jon’s enthusiastic approval: “It’s like a vibrator for your mind.”

Meanwhile, also in Los Angeles, Laura is an aspiring fashion designer who wants to make clothes for dogs. Her career isn’t going so well and she’s struggling to make money. Laura has two roommates: a down-to-earth Australian named Georgia (played by Adelaide Kane) and a self-admitted alcoholic and nymphomaniac named Molly (named Leslie Stratton), who utters lines like, “Get ready, because his dick will be like a McDonald’s milkshake machine.”

The only reason why the character of Molly seems to have been written for this movie is so she could have a threesome with two men. That’s what happens when Laura, with Georgia’s help, puts on a small doggie fashion show in their apartment for some potential customers, but the fashion show is ruined by the sounds of the threesome going at it in a nearby bedroom. After this scene, Molly isn’t seen or heard from again.

Tommy and Laura have a not-very-interesting “meet cute” scene at a food truck. The movie then fast forwards to Tommy and Laura getting engaged. The engagement party dinner includes Laura’s roommate/best friend Georgia; Laura’s free-spirited parents Mama McGursky (played by Carol Hennesy) and Papa McGursky (played by E.E. Bell); Tommy’s more traditional parents Sherry (played by Linda Purl) and Manfred (played by Matt McCoy), who’s a workaholic businessman; and Laura’s older adopted brother Lance (played by Luke Wilson), who drunkenly confesses that he’s always been jealous of Laura because she’s the biological child of their parents.

And the next thing you know, they and Tommy’s boss Ricky are all on a plane to the Bahamas, where Tommy and Laura’s wedding is supposed to take place. Of course, in a predictable sex comedy like this one, there has to be a “Mile High Club” encounter on the plane. But even that tryst (with Ricky and a woman who looks old enough to be his mother) is poorly written and brings no laughs.

By the way, Ricky likes to put on a Japanese headband before he has sex. It’s like he’s doing some kind of creepy, dumb tribute to “The Karate Kid.” Ralph Macchio would not be proud.

And wouldn’t you know, things go wrong with the trip when an announcement comes over the plane that, due to weather problems in the Bahamas, the plane has to be rerouted to Jamaica instead. When the wedding party gets to Jamaica, they all find out the wedding, which is in four days, can’t be held in the Bahamas because no one would be able to get there on time. Therefore, they decide to have the wedding in Jamaica. And the only place available is a Hedonism II resort, which is a known vacation spot for swingers.

One of the things that is immediately noticeable about the casting for “The Swing of Things” is that while there’s diversity in how the young men look, all the young women are way above-average in their looks. There isn’t one young woman in this cast who doesn’t look like some kind of model, which is very unrealistic. If “The Swing of Things” director Shapira had a casting call sheet for the young actresses he wanted to cast in the movie, he might as well have just put, “Only thin, pretty women will be get the job.” In the real world, a resort like Hedonism II has young women of various body types and looks, but don’t tell that to a director who clearly wanted mostly “hot chicks” in his movie.

The movie has the predictable close-up shots of naked breasts and showing the backsides of women in thong bikinis. But director Shapira also has a weird fixation on doing close-ups of the penises of black men in tight Speedos—and only the black men. Perhaps the director has some racist stereotypes and insecurities to work out about the sizes of black men’s genitals, compared to white men’s, but it’s pretty obvious he didn’t want any close-ups of white men’s privates parts in the way he almost fetishizes the black men’s genitals in this movie.

There’s a problematic scene where an all-black group of men who work at the resort offer to give massages to the women in the wedding party. But since this is a swingers’ resort, these “masseurs” assume that the women want more than massages, so these white women are sexually harassed and sexually fondled/assaulted by black men in the massage rooms. The women are able to fight them off and get away. It’s all played for laughs in the movie, but there’s a racist and sexist tone to this scene that’s reprehensible and not funny at all.

There’s also a character named Ira Goldstein (played by Oliver Cooper), who works as the resort’s promoter, but what he really wants to do is open a dry-cleaning business with his Jamaican wife. Ira first meets the members of the wedding party when they arrive at the airport, and he’s the one who recommends that they stay at Hedonism II. The running gag with Ira is that he’s from New York’s Long Island, but he talks in a fake Jamaican accent so that he can appear to be an “authentic” Jamaican. Can you say cultural appropriation?

And it gets even more insufferable with Ira, since he’s constantly hitting up the resort guests (including Tommy’s father Manfred) for money to invest in his non-existent business. Needless to say, the Ira character is a major pest. However, Cooper gives one of the better performances in this movie that’s filled with bad acting. Kane also shows glimmers of talent, but the movie’s screenplay and direction (including amateurish, choppy editing) are so terrible, that any talent that she might have just gets lost in the stink of it all.

Dot-Marie Jones has an awkwardly written cameo as a sex therapist named Finlay Roosevelt, who gets Tommy’s parents and Laura’s parents to “loosen up.” It’s as cringeworthy as it sounds. As for Wilson, who wears a Panama hat throughout the movie as if he’s some of kind of goofball Indiana Jones, this was clearly “just a paycheck” movie for him, since his terrible performance as Laura’s annoying and irresponsible older brother Lance is downright embarrassing.

As for the wedding couple, it should come as no surprise that having their wedding at a swingers’ resort will result in temptations and insecurities/accusations about who might be cheating. And as if this stupid movie couldn’t get any more unimaginative, there’s a cliché “race against time to the airport before it’s too late to tell this person how I feel” scene that’s a tired ripoff of many other romantic comedies that have done the same thing.

Because most of this film is set on location in a resort in Jamaica, the cast and crew of “The Swing of Things” probably had some fun making this movie. Too bad anyone unlucky enough to watch this putrid trash won’t be having any fun at all.

Lionsgate released “The Swing of Things” on Blu-ray, DVD, digital and VOD on July 14, 2020.