Review by Michael Jacobson
Kristy Swanson, Stephen Baldwin, Brandy Ledford, Cameron Daddo
Director: Kari Skogland
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: Trailer, Photo Gallery, Filmographies
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: January
fantasized about him while we were making love.”
Zebra Lounge is
as good a title as any. It refers
to the nightclub where two couples pre-arrange a first meeting, and then is
never mentioned again. But Swingers
was already taken.
notwithstanding, this is a picture about a normal couple who engages in an
erotic adventure with a stranger couple, and end up way over their heads.
It’s a thriller that hits and misses, but is frankly never boring.
Even though the ending is a fairly foregone conclusion, exploring the
path that leads to the finale is an interesting journey in and of itself.
(Ledford) and Alan Barnet (Daddo) are a typical suburban couple with a pair of
kids, two cars, a nice house…and problems.
Though they seem to have a good relationship in all other aspects, the
bedroom activity has been troublesome. Both
are trying to work a spark back into their lives, but without success.
“Rub some cream on my back,” she suggests.
“I don’t want to get grease all over my papers,” he replies.
answer, they conclude, is to find another attractive couple for a night of
swap-the-spouse. They place an ad,
and seem to find just the right pair in Louise (Swanson) and Jack Bauer
(Baldwin). Though nervous at first,
they concede to let the more experienced Louise and Jack lead the way for a
night of pleasure. (As an aside,
the scenes are effectively erotic, but whose idea was it to play that damn
cheesy music behind them like it was a porn film?)
works for Wendy and Alan…they become a voracious couple again.
But their encounter with Louise and Jack was no passing event.
Imagine their surprise when their swinging couple friends show up
unannounced at Wendy and Alan’s birthday party for their son!
little weird, but no harm done…yet. The
audience, of course, will see what’s going on long before Wendy and Alan ever
do. Louise and Jack are a bit
obsessive over their newfound friends. Their
presence in the Barnets’ lives grows from strangely benign (as when Jack helps
Alan land a big contact for his business) to the unsettling…moments I
wouldn’t think of giving away.
conclusion, as mentioned, is something we know is coming from the start…the
only question is, will the movie opt for the ending with teeth, or the safe,
happier, but less believable route? I’ll
leave that for you to discover, also.
premise isn’t a bad one, but there are weights that mire the story down in
conventionality. The four leading
actors are all decent enough, but it doesn’t help them that they have to
recite constantly silly lines like “I’ve never dressed for an orgy
before”. Or, my personal
favorite, during an argument: “I
would have never done that!” screams Wendy.
“I was raised Catholic, for Christ’s sake!”
direction by Kari Skogland ranges from the competently done scene to the
film-school styled exercises in useless camera trickery.
A tennis doubles scene, for instance, is filled with gratuitous angles
and movements that add nothing to the story.
It’s followed by two guys batting a ball back and forth that is
horrendously edited…no sense of rhythm at all.
the entire purpose of creating the film an excuse to build around a couple of
well executed, titillating sequences? Arguably…but
if that was the case, at least the audiences got their money’s worth with
them. A little more attention to
other details might have made for a better picture, though.
As it stands, it keeps your attention the whole way, but doesn’t give
you the impression you’ve seen much afterwards.
this is a good transfer from Columbia Tri Star, but not anamorphic, and not quite up to
par with their usual quality, and with a few problems worth noting.
Though most of the film looks quite good, with strong levels of detail,
natural coloring, and images free of compression artifacts, there are some
moments early on that look a bit soft, and a couple of dark ones near the end
that get a little awash in murkiness and noticeable grain.
What’s good far outweighs the bad, however, so the overall marks are
still good for this one.
5.1 soundtrack doesn’t offer much in the way of harnessing the rear stage or
the .1 channel…in fact, I don’t recall the subwoofer kicking in at all
during the presentation. Most
everything is on the front stage, with only minor bits of panning, but good
clear dialogue and music, with no distortions or drop-outs.
It’s a perfectly serviceable audio track, but nothing spectacular.
addition to a trailer, the disc contains a small photo gallery, and some
filmographies for the principals.