Although Swimming with Sharks is about a very specific field of business, the ideas expressed in it are universal. Everyone hates their bosses. It is a universal fact that if you work for someone chances are that someone is a dick (A dick in this case can mean male or female). If you are anything like me than you spend your free time at your shitty job thinking of interesting ways to torture this boss who makes you dread going to work everyday. In this film, the protagonist not only gets to live this fantasy but also ends up getting what he wants. It is a promo for doing just what you like right? Well not so much, but it is a pretty interesting take on torture fantasies and the horror of actually working in Hollywood.
Why are people so fascinated with Hollywood? Why do so many talented people want to degrade themselves at thankless jobs in order to make films? Why do they put up with such shit? At one point the protagonist, Guy, is asked essentially this same question. And he answers in a way that you will find most people answer that want to enter the film world. All of his favorite memories are highlighted by the films he likes. He can’t remember a time where films didn’t matter to existence. He endures the shit because maybe one of these days he will make films that a younger him would want to watch. He will have the impact on millions of people just like him. This is why I like this film. I have never had a studio job so I cannot attest to the truth of how Guy is treated (although I have heard a lot of stories and this treatment, although extreme, is still spot on) but I can attest to his motivations for wanting to make films. This is me. This is my fellow classmates. This is my favorite professor. This is everyone I have ever met who wanted to make films. I know that there have been hundreds of films made about filmmaking, but no film has said the reason behind Hollywood even existing so bluntly. It is refreshing.
Kevin Spacey has never been that amazing of an actor to me. Sure he is good to watch if you want to see an over the top breakdown, but usually not more than that. He is an over actor and that can get exhausting very quickly. But there are roles where this over acting can be an asset instead of a crutch. This is definitely one of those films. He just seems to be having so much fun playing the sadistic executive that I forget that I kinda don’t really like him that much. His infamous speech about the difference between Sweet and Low and Equal is so hard to watch while also being insanely entertaining. In fact the only part of the film that I thought was boring were the parts where he was no longer in control. The wet blanket that is Frank Whaley (Guy) is so frustrating when he is trying to wig out and be a psychopath. He needed to take some lessons from Kevin Spacey to be sure.
This hidden gem from the early nineties is a unique enough spin on the behind the scenes Hollywood picture for me to recommend it to anyone that likes this type of film. Although nothing is said that is too earth shattering it is a nice way to highlight all the shit people go through when forced to work for other people. It is nice to see an aspect of my life that I don’t particularly like represented in film.