Alvin and Ellie are a thirty-something couple living in London. They seem to have it all. Beginning as college sweethearts, marriage soon followed and careers landed in their laps. But it's all getting a bit stale, especially between the sheets. With the help of their friends they decide to embark on an adventure into the world of swinging.
In this major chick flick Mandy Moore and Martin Freeman play an unlikely pair meant to be terribly in love. Moore plays the sweet, soft-spoken American to Freeman's babbling, awkward London lad, a role they are both more than used to playing and a setup played out in hundreds of films before.
It's hard to tell where the film sits. Is it comedy? Is it romance? It's a good attempt at tweaking the usual romcom, throwing in sex and taboo to spice it up. But not even a questionable scene with a cucumber or a series of weird swinger couple interviews could make this great. (If you want an example of this type of film done right, try 'The Heartbreak Kid' (2007) with Malin Akerman playing the sexually free, certifiably insane newlywed). We want to see Moore like never before and unfortunately she comes off sweet and cute, as ever.
The casting is questionable and it doesn't end with Moore, Freeman and their lack of chemistry or believability as a couple. Most of the main cast don't seem to gel together well on screen. Throw in ridiculous bit-parts by Jerry Stiller, Angus Deayton and - love him or loathe him- Louie Spence (yes, you heard right) and you almost have a recipe for disaster.
However, 'Swinging with the Finkels' is easy to watch and there are a few laughs. Melissa George plays the neurotic, straight-talking best friend quite well. The awkwardness of some scenes is comical but when a nurse with a one-liner (just call her Urethra Franklin) is one of the biggest gags, you need to take a step back. The bigger picture is that it kind of works as a soppy, happy ending love story with a twist, but when you get to the core of it there are a lot more problems than just stale sheets.