Movie Review- Swimming with Sharks

This is Day 1 of BRIMM. If you’ve ever had the dream of entering the movie business, well, this movie just might change all of that. Swimming with Sharks is a 1994 film starring Frank Whaley as Guy, an dough-eyed, naive film school grad who gets a job as the assistant for one of the hottest, and meanest, movie execs in the business, Buddy Ackerman (played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey, who was also a co-producer). Written and directed by George Huang, it supposedly illustrates some of the real situations George went through himself as an assistant for a movie executive. This dark comedy left me in stitches the first time I watched it. Kevin Spacey’s Buddy is hilariously mean. From the way he yells at Guy in the office (dropping F-bombs like there’s no tomorrow), to the sneaky, and devious ways he takes credit for Guy’s work. Add to the mix Guy’s love interest, played by every Comicon and Trekker geek’s poster girl, Michelle Forbes (True Blood, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek:TNG). Michelle plays Dawn Lockard, a high powered producer who’s supposedly slept her way to the top, but is now looking to be redeemed by making “important” films. Dawn and Guy get involved, and that adds complexity to Guys working relationship with Buddy.


Note that this is a dark comedy. The movie actually starts at the “end” (a la Sunset Boulevard) where we’re at the scene of a crime and we know someone has been killed. Guy is outside the crime scene and we journey back to the night before to see him take Buddy hostage with a gun. The movie then cycles back and forth from the hostage scene to Guy’s life at the movie studio over the past year. He apparently has had enough and snaps. If you’re sensitive to torture scenes, you may find yourself turning your head from time to time.What I find interesting in the movie is that we learn something about one of the characters that offers a completely new light and insight into their persona. You end up pondering the question, “what right do I have to judge anyone given the life they may have had in the past.” Not to say one’s past excuses crimes today, whether actual legal crimes or just crimes of conscience. But it does make you stop and think.


If you’re at all interested in the movie business, I have no doubt you’ll thoroughly enjoy this piece. It is very funny and from what I’ve heard from my friends in the movie biz, casts a pretty accurate picture of what life in “Hollywood” is like. My main criticism of the film is Frank Whaley’s Guy. I just could not picture a wimpy “guy” like that with a woman like Dawn. There’s a scene where she’s cuddled up with him on a coach, and it just doesn’t fly for me. He seems more like a boy to her woman.


“Before you go out and change the world, ask yourself, what do you really want?”

And one of my favorites:

“If they can’t start a meeting without you, well, that’s a meeting worth going to, and the only kind of meeting you should concern yourself with.” Buddy Ackerman, Sr. EVP of Production, Keystone Pictures.

If you saw the movie, what was your take?

UPDATED: Tonight I’m watching the Robert Altman’s The Player. Check out the Movie Marathon link at the top of my blog to see what other films are coming down the pike.