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Big-T & the Bada-Bings

Buena Vista Home Entertainment 
93 minutes/Rated 'R'

"Everyone wants to be the Beatles," demurs Joan (Lisa Stansfield) in Swing, after being invited to sing in a band. "Not exactly an original idea, is it?"

Her character has a point. After all, if you score your musical comedy/dramas on originality, you'll certainly be inclined to deduct points from Swing for a plot that borrows heavily from the 1991 film The Commitments. It's all here: the unlikely, contentious misfits from an impoverished U.K. town, pawing for a handful of stardust by performing music from a bygone era. Substitute the slums of Liverpool for the ghettos of Dublin and swing music for soul, and you have what appears to be—on paper, at least—a near-Xerox of a decade-old crowd favorite.

But Swing distinguishes itself with its relentlessly optimistic tone and emphasis on a beguiling romance between Joan and her ex-con ex-boyfriend, Martin (Hugo Speer, the well-endowed stripper from The Full Monty). Stung by Joan's marriage to his arresting officer, Martin remains committed to assembling a swing band and spreading the gospel of the Lindy Hop, as taught to him by his sax-playing cellmate (Clarence Clemons). Joined by an ex-skinhead on drums, a few belligerent Orangemen on horns and a childhood chum who'd rather chase skirts than pluck bass strings, Martin and Joan soon rediscover their ability to make beautiful music together—much to her husband’s chagrin.

Aided by breathtaking cinematography and production designs that transform squalid flats into kaleidoscopic kitschfests and shabby dancefloors into shimmering cascades of vibrant red and indigo blue, writer/director Nick Mead effectively conveys the escapist lure of swing music. Stansfield's vocals are a sinful opiate, and she and Speer demonstrate the kind of combustible chemistry that simply can't be scripted or directed. As light and airy as cotton candy, this gossamer confection leaves a somewhat fleeting, though undeniably pleasant, aftertaste. Bottom line: Swing now and think later.

- Jeff Bell

Year 1999 Reviews
Year 2000 Reviews
Year 2001 Reviews
Year 2002 Reviews
Year 2003 Reviews
Bellevue Cadillac—Prozac Nation
Big Kahuna—Hawaiian Swing
Big Rude Jake—Big Rude Jake
Big Tubba Mista—Knock One Back
Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra—
Swingin' The Century
Bim Bam Baby—Who Am I Gonna Love
Black Jacket Racket—Volume II
Blue Saracens—What's A Saracen?
The Camaros—Evil
Casey MacGill & The Spirits of Rhythm—Jump
The Delegates—Delegatin'
George Gee & His Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra—Swingin' Live
Got Swing?—Volume I
The Music of Harry Warren—
Swing! Here and Now
House of Blues Swings!
Indigo Swing—Red Light
Jet Set Six—Livin' It Up
Lisa Stansfield—Swing: The Movie
Mob Hits—Volume I
Mora's Modern Rhythmists—
Mr. Rhythmist Goes To Town
Ray Gelato Giants—The Men From Uncle
Rockabilly Hall of Fame—
VolumesI & II
Royal Crown Revue—Walk on Fire
The Yalloppin' Hounds—
Ghetto Swing Extreme
  Retro Film Reviews
Swing!: The Movie
  Retro Reading Reviews
The Swing Book—Degen Pener
Musichound's Swing!; The Essential Music Guide

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