Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Don’t You Forget About Me: Sue in Swingers

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 15, 2007

“You’re like a fucking bear, man!”

I was watching the Guy’s Choice Awards on Spike TV last Wednesday–not exactly the most prestigious of ceremonies, but much more fun (and arguably more creative) than this year’s MTV Movie Awards. One of the awards given was for this year’s (the first? Has Spike ever done this before?) Guy Movie Hall of Fame entry, which was deservedly handed to 90s guy movie classic Swingers. Almost as influential in its own way as the more critically acclaimed Pulp Fiction (watch IFC for more than eight hours in a row, and you’re bound to see at least one carbon copy) and easily one of the best movies ever made about male bonding (“the male version of Steel Magnolias,” star Vince Vaughn called it), Vaughn and co-star/writer Jon Favreau more than deserved the award, which they showed up to accept on the movie’s behalf.

But really, there should’ve been another dude there to accept it as well. Well, actually, there should be two, but co-star Ron Livingston has himself gone on to bigger and better things, and surely he’ll be there to accept when Spike inevitably bestows honors Office Space in a couple of years. But the guy who really should be there–and the guy who almost certainly had nothing else better to do at the time–was Patrick Van Horn, best (and really, only) known for playing Sue–the third arm of the Swingers Triumverate.

And I’m not exaggerating when I say that’s what he’s only known for. The totality of Patrick Van Horn’s Wikipedia entry reads as such: “Patrick Van Horn (b. 19 August 1969) is an American actor best known for his role Sue in the film Swingers.” IMDB lists a few other roles–in Clint Eastwood’s The Dead Pool, Pauly Shore’s Encino Man, and a one-ep gig on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But to 99.999999% of America, Van Horn is Sue and Sue is Van Horn. This was his–excuse the pun–money shot.

Really, Sue is almost as essential a part of the movie as Vince’s Trent. Sure, Vaughn is about a million times more charismatic and memorable, and he gets all of the best lines, but I just couldn’t see the movie working so well without Sue. He’s the midway point between Trent’s super-confident ladies man and Mikey’s insecure clinger, and the type of friend that just about every group of friends has one of–the type of guy that no one’s really likes that much because he’s kind of an asshole sometimes, but who still throws your group’s dynamics all out of wack when he’s not present.

What’s more, he gets two of the movie’s three best scenes (the third either being the famous one with Mikey leaving Nikki six straight answering machine messages, or Ron Livingston’s “It’s sunny every day here!” motivational speech to Mikey when he’s at his low point)*. One is the scene from virtually out of nowhere where he pulls a piece on some Latino guys who accidentally bump into him, unwittingly starting much shit (“Come on, haven’t you seen Boyz n the Hood? Now one of us is gonna get shot!) It’s the kind of random and totally unnecessary incident that people like Sue are always incident for no apparent reason, and the meltdown his character suffers immediately afterwards–unleashing a string of shit-talking on Mikey, totally undoing all the good work he and Trent had been doing to build up his confidence–is inevitable and painful.

But the second scene is my favorite in the whole movie–it’s a couple days afterwards, and after Livingston’s previously mentioned pep talk snaps Mikey out of his funk, and they’re over at Trent’s place, who’s busy wooing the Latino gang from the previous incident with his NHL 95 skillz. Sue pulls Mikey over, explains what’s going on to him, and apologizes. Mikey instantly forgives him for the incident, saying that they’re better friends for it, and they embrace. “I’ve been hating myself for the last two days,” Sue says. After what we saw transpire between these two guys just a few scenes earlier–and without any real progression in between leading up to this apology–it comes as just as much of a shock as Sue’s initial gat-pulling, and it’s one of the most touching demonstrations of genuine dude friendship I’ve ever seen on film–how even the ones who are kind of assholes sometimes still have your back 95% of the time.

Yet not a single mention, not even a single shout out from Favreau and Vaughn at the the Guy’s Choice Awards. Maybe Van Horn at least managed to avoid the Swingers curse of gaining about 100 pounds over the course of the next decade. Anyone have a recent picture?

*Edit: I totally forgot about the last scene between Favreau and Vaughn, which is obviously the best scene in the whole movie. But you guys were probably taking that for granted already, right?)

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3 Responses to “Don’t You Forget About Me: Sue in Swingers”

  1. meg said

    not sure about his acting career but aparently still friends with Vaughn
    according to one of the magazines Van horne was with Vince
    in vegas recently

  2. Kriss AFF said

    Vince is cool. Getting funnier all the time.

  3. billy said

    You think Spike will still be around in two years to give Livingston his due? I’m not so sure.

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