Swimfan
Grade: D
Year: 2002
Director: John Polson
Writer: Charles F. Bohl
Genre: Thriller
Rated: PG-13

Splash, the swimmers hit the water gracefully leaving a trail of white oxygen bubbles, stroking against the gentle current of the cool blue pool. The beautiful camera angles capture the action from underwater, as Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford) pushes himself to the other end of the pool while thrusting his arms and kicking his hairy legs.

Body hair (and a lot of it) on the competitive swimmers was just one of many flaws I found with the hottest new movie, teen-thriller Swimfan. It's about a boy named Ben who had it all. A hot girlfriend named Amy, (Shiri Appleby) and a shot at getting a swimming scholarship from Stanford. Don't worry, all the teenage drama you love in these campy movies are here. How will Ben and Amy stay together while they attend different colleges? How can they spend time with each other with his swimming priorities and her late night work schedule? Can he get along with his swimming buddies that are fitted with jealousy over his chances at a scholarship?

But anyway, back to our young stud, Ben. He's walking down the halls of his high school, and he must be the most popular kid at school. He shakes and slaps hands with every extra that passes him while greeting everyone with his lovable smile. Continuing along his journey, Ben encounters a girl struggling to get her locker open. Ben meets Madison Bell (Erika Christensen) and soon learns that she is the new kid in school. He helps her out by picking the lock with a hair pin. Cute and innocent Bell asks, "Why how does a charming young boy like you able to pick that lock?" (not in those exact words) But he goes on to explain that he once had a dark past that involved drug use and violent behavior that landed him in a juvenile detention for six months. Okay, time to take out your notepad and jot this down, these facts come into play later on in the movie. Oh, and a word of advice; never give your future enemy blackmail fodder to be used against you later.

Madison soon obsesses over Ben and decides, what the heck, I'll make love to him in the pool after practice, and maybe he'll forget about Amy and go out with me. I won't tell you if they actually do it or not, but I will tell you that the evil in Madison increasingly becomes more evident as the movie progresses.

Madison becomes a part of Benís life in every aspect. She shows up at all of his practices, at every party he goes to (yes, he goes to parties and drinks despite the fact that Stanford scouts will be at his meet that week to evaluate him) and she even visits his mom when heís not home. While doing research in the library, she sends him massive quantities of e-mail, not mention a naughty picture of herself. I hope the computer doesnít freeze up when Benís girlfriend happens to appear out of nowhere from behind the screen. Madisonís mentality that Ben will eventually fall in love with her and leave Amy only pushes her towards insanity.

This is where the supposed thrill aspect of the movie kicks in. While Ben is volunteering at the hospital where his mom works, one of the patients he recently visited goes into cardiac arrest. Is Ben back to his old ways of drug abuse and violence? Past history is a bummer. Friends start to disappear, but nobody believes the kid because he once had a drug problem. At least Stanford still gave him a chance, since usually a problematic past would kill any chances at a scholarship to an ivy league school. Madison doesnít stop at poising the elderly, at least I had a little fun trying to guess how far she would ultimately go to claim Ben as her own.

The main character spends most of the movie falling a part with his mouth agape when he should be defending himself. When accused of a certain crime, rather than give the cop an alibi or an explanation, he sputtered phrases like, ďArrest meÖdonít believe me, you never did before,Ē and other sob stories that you simply canít sympathize with.

Swimfan is too farfetched. Unless you think someone in handcuffs can escape from a locked cop car driven by two armed police officers, Swimfan offers very little chance that you will leave the theater feeling inspired. I hope the girl who sat behind me felt embarrassed after she let out an ear piercing shriek at one point; not because she unintentionally screamed, but because she didnít see it coming from a mile away like the rest of us. Director John Polson (Billy Baird in Mission Impossible 2) didnít make us think or trick anybody, well maybe except that girl who sat behind me. Youíll know right away which characters are good, evil, a little bit of both, start off evil - become good and vise versa.

Believe it or not, our young cast acted well and delivered surprise performances, then again we canít consider the actors young since most of them were in their mid-twenties playing the roles of high school students. Good lighting effects were the only thing keeping the mood down enough so that the audience wouldnít laugh at how goofy this movie is.

There wasnít a better a time to release this low budget teen flick. Thanks to a stagnant summers end (XXX was the last big hit to come out), Swimfan will shine as the fall season opener, not having any movie to compete with, easily taking #1 in its opening weekend. Expect it to fall quickly however, it gets my vote as one of the stupidest movies of the year.

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