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The Conway Daily Sun

-THE CONWAY DAILY SUN – 9/27/2002

(See last two paragraphs)

REEL REVIEWS: SWIMFAN

By Chris Barahona

--presented by 20th Century Fox. Directed by John Polson, starring Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Shiri Appleby, and Dan Hedaya. Rated PG-13 for alcohol use, language, and sexual situations.

The lead swimmer on the swim team is Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford). Ben is a former bad boy who has mended his ways. Rehabilitated through swimming, he has a great girlfriend who looks like Meadow Soprano (Shiri Appleby), a supportive mom, a great job handing out meds in a retirement community, and the scouts are coming from Stanford to watch him swim.

Things are swell until Madison Bell (Erika Christensen) moves into town. After a couple of opportune meetings with some heavy flirting, the vixen seduces Ben in the high school pool Ben seems to have 24-hour access to.

The sex scene is very graphic by PG-13 standards. Madison turns psycho and Ben regrets having shagged her.

The principle elements of this movie are straight from “Fatal Attraction,” starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close as the psycho. “Swimfan” is being offered I think because its target audience, teens, are too young to remember the 1987 bunny boiler.

Erika Christensen, who was so incredible in “Traffic” two years ago, is adequate here in a role it seems she had a lot of fun with. Jesse Bradford, who was truly charming in “Bring It On” (a movie I did not want to see but like a lot), is okay in his first dramatic starring role, but always seems to be trying too hard to be cute to be believable. I can’t stand his stupid, crooked grin. He flashes it way too often in this film. In one scene where he physically confronts Madison to change her stalking ways, he shows some grit.

“Swimfan” is entertaining enough, but I always have trouble with movies where the cops have all graduated from Barney Fife Police Academy and the climax is telegraphed to you. Though silly and unrealistic, the film does boast a fun Dan Hedaya performance, along with a local actor in a key role.

Monroe Mann (1995 graduate of Fryeburg Academy) plays Jake Donnelly, Madison’s ex-boyfriend, who lies in a coma throughout the film, but is seen in flashbacks, photos, and hallucinations. Monroe was in “Equus” at the Eastern Slope Playhouse six or seven years ago, possibly one of the finest and most professional performances I have ever seen there. I hope the roles keep coming to him.

“Swimfan” is 20th Century Fox’s big release for the month of September, which really isn’t saying much, considering the crop of the crap the studios sling at us this time of year, every year, before their Oscar contenders are released in November & December.

** out of five.