If the general assumption is that people become smarter as they age, then Swimfan, the bastard teenage child of Fatal Attraction, shows that people can get smart pretty quickly. Swimfan is essentially Fatal Attraction for teens, and it does a horrible job of adapting the psycho mistress story for a younger generation. The main problem is that it is hard to keep a straight face while watching the movie; it is too tempting to break out into fits of laughter while watching these dumb kids try to go through the motions of an adult thriller/drama. It's not that they cannot do the material, it's just that the material is so inherently ridiculous that anybody in these roles would not be able to do it justice.
The psycho bitch here is Madison Bell (Erika Christensen, Traffic, Leave It To Beaver), the proverbial new girl in town. She sets her sights on Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford, Clockstoppers, Dancing at the Blue Iguana), a reformed kid who has a bright future in swimming. The scouts from Stanford are coming to watch him (although Cronin and his team apparently don't know that swimmers are supposed to shave to increase speed). Ben is also happily going out with Amy Miller (Shiri Appleby, The Thirteenth Floor, The Other Sister). Madison knows this, but convinces Ben to participate in a late night tryst in the pool. He quickly feels remorse, while Madison feels an intense connection. As Ben rebuffs her more, she becomes more unhinged.
To say that things become hectic for Ben is putting it lightly. According to Charles Bohl (Noah, Here's My Girl) and Phillip Schneider's script, Madison has some sort of magic power where she seems to know everything about Ben and can innocently insinuate herself into every aspect of his life without anyone else knowing the better. Amy does notice Ben acting strange, but she believes that he is nervous about the meet and their future together. When Ben begins to tell other people what he believes is going on, nobody believes him because of his past (how convenient). The worst part of the script is a gaping hole left by Bohl and Schneider. Near the end, they introduce something that may shed some light on Madison's past and provide a clue as to why she is doing what she is doing. Well, they subsequently ignore what they introduce, which causes the remainder of the film to lose any logic left.
There are not many variations on this type of movie, and John Polson (Siam Sunset, What's Going on Frank?) cannot really go wrong directing. There is only one way to go, and he goes that way. Swimfan falters when everybody decides that this material is serious. Acting serious only makes this movie feel worse, especially as Madison goes further off the edge. Her actions go too far, so instead of making her look deranged or dangerous, she looks silly. If the events in Swimfan did not go as far as they did, it would make the movie more believable and (gasp!) more realistic and thrilling. This movie is a second glimpse at Christensen, who did a good job in Traffic, and serves as more of a coming out for Bradford and Appleby (from Nickelodeon movies and television, respectively), and is not a great way for any of them to establish themselves. On the other hand, there is nowhere to go but up from here.
|Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.|
|1 hour, 26 minutes, Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content, disturbing images, and language.|
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