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Swimming With Sharks Review

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A Holly wood studio vice president (Spacey) terrorises is lowly film school graduate assistant (Whaley), only to find Guy's talent and an ingenious script place him is the position of humiliation all too familiar to his assistant.

★★★★

This darkly funny blend of film industry foibles and office politics gets a long overdue cinema release and beggars the question: how much longer can Kevin Spacey get away with playing the bad guy? On the strength of this performance, as the kind of seething, temperamental, lecherous movie mogul any sane person would cross the street to avoid, let's hope it's for as long as he bloody well likes.

Spacey is Buddy Ackerman, the studio vice-president and archetypal boss from hell. The object of his venom is Guy (Whaley), a naive film school graduate who lands the unenviable job of his assistant. On the surface his new employer is a likeable professional chap who charms the pants (literally) off every would-be actress who flits past his office door, but underneath it all Guy endures public humiliation, unreasonable demands and executive toys flying in the general direction of his head with gay abandon. That is until a spot of underhand one-upmanship involving a not unattractive producer (Forbes), a brilliant script, and an equally inspired idea of Guy's causes him to crack, with the ensuing revenge far from sweet.

While comparisons with The Player are inevitable; the success of Huang's movie hinges more on its portrayal of the work ethic than anything else, although the setting does pave the way for some gleeful film industry parody ("Don't ever say that! He's just... unavailable!" barks Spacey upon being informed by his minion that David Lean is, in fact, dead). However, it's the office-based scenes that provide the film's sharpest barbs. Where the film falters is in the revenge sequences. Whaley does a good job of portraying Guy as a hapless individual stretched to breaking point, but the treatment he metes out seems just a little too extreme, while the ambiguous ending dents the satisfaction. Nonetheless, this is a bold, enormously enjoyable effort, by turns both hilarious and disturbing.

This is a bold, enormously enjoyable effort, by turns both hilarious and disturbing.

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