By Merle Bertrand | February 1, 2006

One of the supposed ways to secure distribution for your indie film, short of having Weinstein, Coen or Tarantino as your surname, is to populate the screen with recognizable names; even such “names” who may no longer be on the upward arcs of their career paths. Man, did director Martin Guigui take that advice to heart! Tom Skerritt, Barry Bostwick, the late Nell Carter, Jacqueline Bisset, and even Jonathan Winters all surround and support a cast of otherwise unknowns in this lighthearted tale of love and romance.
Sort of a swing movie marriage of a ghost story-meets “It’s A Wonderful Life”-meets “Xanadu” with equally good music (nobody knocks ELO on MY watch!) and minus the roller skates, “Swing” tells the tale of Anthony (Innis Casey), an aspiring songwriter who’s struggling to find his place in life. His play-it-safe dad (Skerritt) desperately wants to add “…& Son” to the sign on his grocery store while Valerie (Dahlia Waingort), his uptight fiance of, um, eleven years schedules their dates like business meetings.
Anthony gets an unexpected kick in the pants when Mrs. DeLuce (Bisset), an elderly neighbor lady, dies, leaving Anthony a treasure trove of gifts, delivered with the help of Anthony’s frisky Uncle Bill (Winters). Chief among these is a collection of dusty swing records, which introduces the talented musician to their infectious beat. It also introduces him to a mysterious 1940s era jazz club, an enticing dance instructor…and Mrs. DeLuce’s attractive granddaughter Tina (Constance Brenneman), who just might be the gal of Anthony’s dreams if he’d just clear the mud from his eyes.
Taken at face value, the plotline of this film is about as new and innovative as the threads swing dancers buy at the local vintage clothes shop. Yet, there’s just something maddeningly upbeat about this film’s shameless hokiness. Combine that with the film’s colorful art and wardrobe designs, spiffy choreography, the joy of seeing some veteran faces on screen for the first time in a while, and a soundtrack that’ll make even the dead tap their toes, and “Swing” simply makes for some serious jump-jivin’ fun.

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