Swimming With Sharks

"Very Good"

Swimming With Sharks Review


In 1994, the indie revolution was well underway, bolstered by the recent successes of icons like Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, and Richard Linklater. George Huang hit the scene out of nowhere and with a fascinating story: He had been drudging his way as an assistant in Hollywood (for Columbia Pictures, as it turned out), and he somehow scraped together the money and the talent to make a movie inspired by his awful experiences there.

Swimming With Sharks rapidly became a cult favorite, a mean and unsparing indictment of the Hollywood ego trip, as seen through its evil villain (Kevin Spacey in one of his first standout roles) and his nebbish assistant (Frank Whaley, playing the Huang character). Whaley's Guy suffers the abuse of Spacey's power broker, Buddy Ackerman until it hits a breaking point. (Sample dialogue: "You have no brain. No judgement calls are necessary. What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me. You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs.") Finally, when Buddy makes a move on Guy's new girlfriend, a studio producer named Dawn (Michelle Forbes) who has inexplicably latched on to Guy, Guy goes bananas and takes Buddy hostage in his own home. It's a come to Jesus moment, and the entire film is cast as a series of flashbacks from that night in his house.

Movies like this have been made before -- in fact, in the 1990s they were making one a year (Suicide Kings, The Ref (also with Spacey)), and aside from the scorching dialogue there's not much here that feels original. Whaly and Forbes are good (and watch for an early Benicio Del Toro appearance), but Spacey's dripping vitriol steals the show completely.

Perhaps its biggest lesson is Huang's aftermath, which hasn't seen him direct another film of consequence since. (Trivia notes that Huang shot Elijah Wood's audition video for Lord of the Rings. Wow.) Did Huang's tale of torturing studio executives have a negative impact on his ability to get work in Hollywood? Say it ain't so!

The film is now available on a mega-DVD package, which includes three commentary tracks, a 10-year retrospective, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, and a couple of additional featurettes. If you've never seen the film, this disc is the perfect way to experience it.



Swimming With Sharks

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st April 1995

Distributed by: Trimark

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Buddy Ackerman, as Guy, as Dawn Lockard, as Rex, T.E. Russell as Foster Kane, Roy Dotrice as Cyrus Miles, as Manny, as Moe, as Jack

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.