"At times it almost seems like a parody of previous romantic comedies"

I’ve always had a real soft spot for Martin Freeman. When I was 11 years old I was fortunate enough to be a winner in a short-play writing competition. My play, ‘Free Meals’ starred just two characters – one of which was performed by a younger, more inexperienced Freeman. However, despite always looking for the positives in his work (of which there are many), Swinging with the Finkels is just a step too far.

Freeman plays the part of Martin Finkel, who is in a long and increasingly strenuous relationship with Sarah, played by Mandy Moore. The married pair have hit a wall in their relationship and their sex life is severely non-existent. They attempt various daft ideas to help spice things up and eventually settle on swinging. Then, with the help of another couple, (one of whom, Richard, is played by Angus Deayton) they attempt swinging, while we then have to watch the ever so conspicuous repercussions take place.

There is, however, quite a severe problem in the film. Why can’t the two main parts, who are both desperate to resurrect their love life, just have bloody sex - it’s Mandy Moore for crying out loud.

Despite being clearly influenced by an array of good movies, Swinging with the Finkels crosses the unfortunate line of being too much of a replication of previous films, rather than simply paying homage too. Influences from films such as When Harry Met Sally and About Last Night were apparent and director Jonathan Newman has clearly taken many pointers from Woody Allen productions.

This was evident in the use of pretentious and annoying chapter titles and statements breaking up the feature, mostly rhetorical questions related to sex, or supposedly profound statements. However, Swinging with the Finkels failed to capture any of the wit and intelligence that comes with Allen’s work, and instead of being a sincere and sharp attempt at filmmaking, it is crass and bears more similarities to American Pie. And if it was a cross-over of Woody Allen and American Pie, it would be that of post-2000 Woody Allen, and American Pie: The Wedding.

The reason for this is that the film is severely lacking, most importantly, in a good script. Sarah’s Grandfather was played by the brilliant Jerry Stiller – but even he seemed lacklustre in what wasn’t a clever or funny enough script for his credentials. There was one horrible moment when the swinging couples realised they had a connection with each another on discovering they all enjoyed eating Jaffa Cakes, a delicious chcolately orange biscuit. Who doesn’t like those tasty treats? They may as well have declared a common interest and appreciation of good health and money and just got on with it.

The film is also far too clichéd. At times it almost seems like a parody of previous romantic comedies. There is a rain scene, when the lovers run out and argue, seemingly unaware or bothered about the state of their drenched clothes. Oh, and it randomly snows at the end, for reasons unknown.

But the feature is clearly intended for an American audience, with various needlessly placed American characters, whilst portraying a range of racial stereotypes throughout. There are very few British actors, and even where there are, such as Louis Spence (yes, Louis Spence), they have him playing a Spaniard. It simply stinks of being a big tourist trap. There is one scene where after an argument, Martin leaves the building and proceeds to muse beside Tower Bridge, sandwiched in between various other shots of London attractions.

I wanted to like this film, I really did, but it just didn’t have enough good aspects to it at all. There was one scene where Freeman wore a relatively funny wig – but even that was tiresomely involved in a tenuous and cheesy flashback.

At one point, Martin tells Sarah that he intends to spend the next nine years of his life with her, almost suggesting they may encounter further complications in their marriage at a later stage. And if there are, I just hope it isn’t documented in the form of a sequel.