Ann Deborah Fishman should never be allowed to write or direct a film again. She should definitely not be allowed to write again. I’m not too sure she has encountered other people or overheard a conversation before. As for her grasp on relationships and their intricacies, on the evidence of Swiped, her film on Netflix, it is pretty tenuous. Let me explain.
James Singer (Kendal Ryan Sanders) is a nerd and computer genius about to start his freshman year at college. His divorced mother, Leah (Leigh-Allyn Baker), wants him to socialise, and meet other people, as she worries his adherence to computing has made him a bit of a recluse.
At the college, James’ roommate is a womanising, party boy named Lance (Noah Centineo). Lance immediately gets to womanising, as do his two friends, Wesley (Christian Hutcherson) and Daniel (Nathan Gamble). After almost getting caught with a girl by his father, Lance decides he needs a better way to meet women. Discussing with his brain trust of friends, they decide they need an app.
The app cannot be like any app that is presently available. There have to be certain criteria. The app user cannot know any names or want a relationship. They also have to agree to leave after the hook-up. The problem is, even though they are all doing computer science as their major, none of them knows how to build an app.
James runs into his crush, Hannah (Shelby Wulfert), who he inadvertently embarrassed at the school prom. She does not want to talk to him. He talks to her anyway, walking her back to her room. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley realise that James is their best chance to get their app made. They go and tell him they want him to make an app.
James refuses. He has no interest in making a hookup app. When Lance tells him that he could make enough money to go to an Ivy League college, James agrees to make the app. His only stipulation is nobody must know he is the creator of the app. They agree.
James builds the app, and it is a massive success, with everyone on it, in the college, getting on the app. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley go to a club and find that the app has gotten out into the wider world, and is proving popular. Back at the college, the four boys overhear some of the girls talking about how badly they have been treated via the app.
At Christmas break, James goes to his grandparents home for the holidays. His mother lives there after the divorce, along with his younger sister, Ashlee (Kalani Hilliker). James finds out that even his mother is on his app.
At the family Christmas dinner, James father brings a date, Tiffany (Maddy Curley), a woman closer to his daughter’s age than his own. Leah does not take seeing her ex-husband’s new girlfriend too well, especially when she hears that she is moving in with him.
Leah uses the app to find a date. James gets Ashlee and his father to follow her and they watch the date. The date does not go well; Leah is thinking of it as a normal date and is trying to get to know the man she meets.
James asks his grandparents and some of their friends some personal questions. He then sees his mother trying to use his app again. He shuts down the app. He shuts down all of the dating apps. Lance, Daniel, and Wesley freak out as they realise the app is down.
They come after James. He hides out at Hannah’s fraternity house. He tells the girls he wants to build a new app and needs their help. Lance decides to release the fact that James created the app. Hannah, who was not on the app or social media, does not know. The boys tell her. James tells the girls that they do not need an app, as the guys all want them.
Hannah confronts James about the app. He says he built it because he thought Hannah would join it as well. He tells her he loves her. She forgives him. Lance gets told he will have to repeat his class the next year. Lance asks a girl out to dinner. The end.
Swiped is terrible. It is basically a dig at apps such as Tinder but is done in such a crass and ham-fisted way, it fails on all counts. The filming and shot selections are amateurish in the extreme, with the lighting so harsh, every blemish and pore on the actors shows.
With most of the film based around talking and relationship exchanges, it is down to the camera to create some sort of movement, some life. Unfortunately, the camera is generally just plonked onto a tripod and focused on talking heads, highlighting every surgical mark and wrinkle in the more mature actors, and every spot and pimple on the younger actors.
I say ‘actors’ but, was it not for the sheer number of films I watch, I would have thought that this entire cast was made of friends of the director or random people off of the streets.
The performances are, to put it kindly, uneven. Having said that, the script is so wretched it reminds this reviewer of the infamous car wreck of a film Caligula, from 1979, that had a whole slew of talented actors risking career suicide for what turned out to be a soft-porn film.
Unlike Caligula, Swiped does not even have the good grace to have the curiosity value of nudity. It is just bad, and not in an amusing way. This is something that is becoming all too common on Netflix, a comedy without laughs. Swiped is trying to satirise the likes of Tinder, but can you really satirise something that is so self-aware? Not really.
I can only believe that Fishman put herself in crippling debt to get this film made because I cannot believe that a production company put up the money for a script as inept as Swiped. At Ninety-minutes long, the film feels longer simply because it is such a painful watch.
It does not flow particularly well, and the frankly horrible resolution at the end, where James tells the ladies that they are the power, basically takes Shakespeare’s message from Taming of the Shrew, a play written over four hundred years ago, and weakens it.
Swiped is ninety-minutes of your life you will never get back. There is no good reason to watch this film. You have been warned. You are welcome.