Have you ever seen a movie when you were younger that you remember fondly only to look at its ratings to see no one agrees with you? This happened to me the other day when I looked up Swimfan on Rotten Tomatoes. Sitting at 14% with a 32% audience score, it made me look back and say to myself, “I don’t remember it being that bad.”
This film came out at the beginning of my senior year of High School. This was the point in my life where I really started to get into film and other forms of entertainment. That alone puts it in that nostalgic era in my mind.
Swimfan is set around a high school senior swim star in what feels like a smaller town in New York. The swim star Ben Cronin is played by Jesse Bradford. Ben seems like he is that younger person who has everything going for him. He’s dating Amy, played by Shiri Appleby, a young woman who has been accepted to a college in Rhode Island. He is also working at a local hospital and is the star of the high school’s swim team.
The other main character is Madison Bell, played by Erika Christensen. New to the school, Madison meets Ben when she can’t get her locker to open and is running late. She is also the cousin of James DeBello’s Christopher Dante, the school’s outcast. A cello player whose history comes out over the course of the film, Madison quickly shows to have a crush on Ben.
Erica Christensen’s depiction of Madison was difficult to understand. At first, I wasn’t sure if she was actively trying to portray her as an introverted character or if she was having a hard time making the character feel natural. I also thought that Madison was way more outwardly crazy then what it looked like was meant to be. If it had been toned down a bit, the tension would have been higher and that would have better fit the character. Not only was she the textbook definition of a crazy chick, she eventually became the definition of a tease. One scene, in particular, has her standing over the pool when Ben finishes swimming only to go over and make out with his teammate.
Besides the poor acting by most of the cast, not just Erica Christensen, there are issues with the editing. A good number of the cuts were disjointed. You can tell that it was meant to build the suspense and tension, but it falls short. There is one scene in particular where the cuts were so poor that the dialog was still going and the character who’s speaking is not moving their lips.
When I recently revisited Swimfan, there were some things that I had not noticed before. The biggest being Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe’s name showing up as Ben looks at swimming lap-times. It also reminded me of the high school scene when you’re trying to find a balance between school, sports, jobs, and friends. The older computers with the size and the simplistic email and messaging system, and the pagers, were also a part of this movie that hit just the right notes with me.
The soundtrack is full of the hard rock and heavy metal I enjoy, though some will see it as a turnoff. While Swimfan is rated PG-13, I would not recommend it for children that are younger than 16 or 17. There is a sex scene that doesn’t show anything too vulgar, though it is there along with other scenes that are sexually charged, making it a predominant theme throughout the film. Unless you have fond memories of this film like I do, this is a film that can be skipped.