Swimfan (2002)
Main cast: Jesse Bradford (Benjamin 'Ben' Cronin), Erika Christensen (Madison Belle), Shiri Appleby (Amy Miller), Kate Burton (Carla), Clayne Crawford (Josh), Jason Ritter (Randy), Kia Goodwin (Rene), and Dan Hedaya (Coach Simkins)
Director: John Polson


Let's get the more important stuff out of the way first.

No, people, you don't get to see Jesse Bradford in Speedos, no lingering crotch shots anyway. He's mostly filmed above the waist, so all you people hoping to see some young flesh on display, tough luck. And if you're one of those who loathe Shiri Appleby in the axed TV series Roswell (words cannot describe how wretched her Liz Parker is), no, there is no scene here where she is tortured bloody. How disappointing.

So is there any reason to watch Swimfan, a bad teen update of Fatal Attraction? Let me know if you can think of any, because I can't. This movie is what happens when Adrian Lynne gets knocked down by a speeding bus, spends five months in coma, and then is forced to direct his movie even before his physiotherapy sessions end. Swimfan is so bad one can see the "plot twists" coming from miles away.

Benjamin "Ben" Cronin is a reformed juvvie who is now a star swimmer in his school. He has a lovely girlfriend, Amy (Appleby trying to act sexy is like watching a nun performing a striptease - horrifying). But one day he lets himself be seduced by the new gal in town, Madison Belle, and Madison Belle, played like Erika Christensen as if she's Glenn Close's more dim-witted psycho sister, will not accept no as an answer. She will email him, and when he still refuses to ditch Amy for her, she will even frame him. He's a volunteer at the hospital, giving meds to sickies - guess what she does to his patients. He's a swimmer and there are Important People coming soon to make selections at the upcoming swim meet - guess what she spikes into his urine sample. All the way to the inevitable Madison psycho dramatics, this movie lumbers forward like a humorless, oblivious mass of coagulated boredom.

The original movie is an offensive piece of misogynist crap. It is very hard to work up the same degree of contempt for Swimfan, however, because it is so ineptly scripted, acted, and directed. Jesse Bradford, usually a vibrant actor, is a walking dead plank here. Erika Christensen tries, but her role is so badly written there is no way she can come off as anything but just plain wacko. Amy, well, she's played by Shiri Appleby, 'nuff said.

Oh, and the ending doesn't make sense. If Madison Belle is gung ho enough to have sex in the deep end of the pool, how the heck can she meet her end like, well, just like that in the movie? She doesn't even jump up from death for a last minute banshee scream thing.

No exploitative T&A, no humor, no camp value, Swimfan seems to function without any idea how exploitative its very premise is. Unlike, say, the movie Cruel Intentions which hype up the bad camp and exploitation factor for the sake of being lurid (and hence a lot more enjoyable than Swimfan), Swimfan tries to be politically correct, proper, and PG-13 in every way that is so, so wrong. Watching this dull movie is as fun as having a severe case of dry heaves.

Rating: 47


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