Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lounge Lizards: The Next Generation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lounge Lizards: The Next Generation

Article excerpt

JON FAVREAU shook his head. "I've never been in St. Louis in my life," he said during an interview at the Toronto Film Festival.

Yes, he was told, he has. He was here two years ago, as part of a whirlwind cross-country tour to promote an "Animal House" clone called "PCU." Favreau, who was a bit heftier in those days, played the John Belushi role.

"Wait a minute," he said. "A downtown hotel with really high ceilings?" That's the place. The Hotel Majestic. We had lunch in the dining room, which, ironically enough, used to turn into a jazz club in the evenings. "Wish I'd known that," said Favreau, who was whisked to the next town before he could finish his chocolate mousse. Nightclubs where bands play be-bop and swing are part of Favreau's life, and central to his new movie, "Swingers." The film opens in St. Louis today. "Swingers" is about young men and women in the mid-1990s who hang out in lounges reminiscent of the '40s and the '50s. No amphitheaters or mosh pit scenes for these folks. They may be out of work, but they dress sharp, and drink martinis straight up, and jitterbug the night away. Favreau wrote the script, and stars in the movie, along with several of his friends. To a great extent, the lead actors play roles that were conceived with them in mind. "Write what you know" is bedrock advice for young writers. Favreau followed it with his first movie script. "It's like a caricature of my friends," he said. "And those places are real. My friend, Vince Vaughn, introduced me to that world, the swing dancing and the martinis and all the rest. But I've always loved Frank Sinatra. I'm just glad there are other people my age who like it, too. And I love going to a lounge rather than some loud techno club." The aforementioned Vince Vaughn is the co-star of the movie. He plays the tragically hip Trent, a John Travolta wannabe to Favreau's Woody Allen with muscles. "The guys in the movie," Favreau said, "if you looked at them, you'd think they were in a Martin Scorsese film or an Quentin Tarantino film. And they think they are, too. That's why I think those spoof scenes work." "Swingers" includes affectionate parodies of tough-guys-on-the-move scenes from Scorsese's "GoodFellas" and Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." "You see these guys across the room, and it looks like they're lining up to introduce themselves to the Mafia don," said Favreau, who grew up in New York. "But if you listen to them talk, they're just like high school girls, arguing about hair-care products and wondering why the phone never rings." "Swingers" came out of a slack period in Favreau's life that began just about the time the press tour for "PCU" ended. The year before, he had made a breakthrough in "Rudy," the popular story of a young man who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. …

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