Movies, Reviews, scraping the barrel

Scraping the barrel – Swinging With the Finkels

I’ve slated too many cheap horror films in my time, so to prove I can slate films in other genres let’s take a look at a recent British sex farce that makes Rosie Dixon Night Nurse look like Annie Hall.

I often feel sorry for actors who are grateful for any job that comes along then make the big time and have to go through their CVs with correcting fluid. Sadly in the 21st century IMDB does not forget. And neither do I Martin.


Written and directed by Jonathan Newman

Starring Mandy Moore, Martin Freeman, Mellissa George, Jonathan Silverman

Ellie and Alvin Finkel (Moore and Freeman) are a well-to-do professional couple living in London, she is a fashion designer, he’s an architect. They live busy stressful lives and the spark has gone out of their marriage a little. At the same time the marriage of their best friends Janet and Peter (George and Silverman) is hitting the rocks due to Peter’s infidelity. In an attempt the get some spice back in their lives, Ellie and Alvin decide to investigate swinging. Hilarity ensues.

This presents itself as a sex-comedy, but is about as hardcore as a mildly racy episode of Terry & June. Okay, I admit that it’s unlikely that June would have been caught “pleasuring” herself with a cucumber like Mandy Moore is in this film (trust me, it’s a lot less exciting than it sounds). However Terry might have approved of the comedy sink plunger noise that accompanies the vegetable being removed due to the inevitable embarrassing entrance by the in-laws.

Nothing in this film comes close to being convincing, not the characters, not their relationships, not Freeman and Moore’s 10,000 square feet of loft flat, and especially not Melissa George’s truly hideous hairstyle. Freeman and Moore have the sort of on screen chemistry that you can only get when you mix potassium cyanide with sulphuric acid. Dare I suggest that most people in this situation might try counselling before diving into the world of swinging.

Sitcom cliches come thick and fast. For example Moore’s character has a camp gay male friend, who of course has zero interaction with her husband. The character is a straight person’s caricature of a homosexual male. Surely most actual gay men have got better things to do than discuss a heterosexual women’s love life in the remainders dept of John Lewis? Still thank heavens for small mercies, at least we have come a long way from the sort of mincing embarrassing caricature of gay men popular in 70s sitcoms. Oh no, spoke to soon, Louis Spence has just turned up!

To give you an example of the level of humour in this wretched excuse for a movie there is a ludicrous scene where the loathsome Peter thinks he has contracted an STD. Of course he takes best friend Alvin to his appointment at the sexual health clinic. Not only that, he takes Alvin into the examination room. This would never happen, but it does allow the film to make a joke about the nurse calling herself “Urethra Franklin”.

The film resolves itself in a way so cloying and sickly it is like drowning in a vat of treacle. Ultimately the moral frame work of the movie is stunningly reactionary, suggesting that the only way to marital bliss is to just accept that passion burns out and start spawning.

This review was first published on


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