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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “Swimming with Sharks” (1994)

March 11, 2012

Last weeks Monday Streaming article I recommended “Swimming with Sharks”, and it only felt right that I would review this film, it is however one of my favorite films. “Swimming with Sharks” is the ultimate office comedy, before there was “Office Space”, there was this little gem of a comedy. Then again does it qualify as a ‘comedy’? Dark comedy yes, but then again the movie tackles some pretty heavy themes, and bold end results that will make any office workers stomach churn.The film stars (the underrated) Frank Whaley and the super-bad, super-evil, ‘horrible boss’ Kevin Spacey. With the help of a very smart screenplay by director George Huang, “Swimming with Sharks” hits all the right notes on how people feel about their bosses and what we wish we could do to them to seek out retribution.

Whaley plays a young film school grad, Guy, who moves out to Hollywood to work as an assistant for a big studio executive named Buddy Ackerman. Guy thinks this could be his ticket to become a well established writer, by working with one of the best go-to business guys in the movie making industry, sadly though he had no idea that Buddy would turn out to be the spawn of Satan. Buddy yells, screams, humiliates, and steals from Guy, and Guy pretty much takes it every which way it comes at him. That is until after a year of working with Buddy, Guy snaps, he goes to Buddy’s Hollywood Hills home and takes him hostage, torturing Buddy in every painful way he can think of. He forces Buddy to remember every little detail of the past year, making Guy’s life a living hell. But, Buddy is strong, and soon enough the tables begin to turn.

Sure we’ve all had bosses that we’ve hated, some of us have dreamed to accomplish what Guy does at first, but the movie does bring up some excellent points about working with such vendictive people like Buddy. Whether you like it or not, in the real world you’re going to have a horrible boss, but it’s just preparing you for what life is throwing at you. Buddy says that the real world is shit, and tough luck deal with it. But, the ultimate light this movie shines is one simple question for Guy, ‘What do you really want?’ Does Guy want success? Does he want to be like Buddy? Does he want power over people? Or does he want to skate on by? What do we as workers of todays world want? This movie I feel still holds up strong even in todays society where work can be very limited for the people.

The performance that Kevin Spacey gives is pure gold, you could never really imagine just how mean he could get and how far he could go to piss you (the viewer) & Guy off, but he can! My favorite scene without a doubt, and I’m sure many fans will agree, is the Sweet & Low/Equal argument, it pretty much sums up workplace politics between an employee and his/her boss. Believe me, I’ve had similar incidences that Guy has had to endure before, which makes this movie a great watch for other out there. It’s very relatable, you don’t have to be working in Hollywood to relate to Guy or the enviroment he works in, pretty much everyone has gone through the horrible boss syndrome.

The only issue I do feel the movie does have is it’s ending, it derails off the point is was trying to make, I mean, it does bring up the point again, but not in the right light that it should’ve been. For some it might leave many feeling hollow inside, others will hate on it, and many might be ok with it. For me, to this day I still don’t know how I feel about the ending, after all the pain and physical torture Buddy is put through, you still feel bad for Guy. Nevertheless, “Swimming with Sharks” is a smart, merciless Hollywood satire, that’s darkly hilarious, and extremely observant.

GRADE: A-

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