Swimming with Sharks (1994)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  21 April 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 18,536 users  
Reviews: 149 user | 38 critic

A young, naive Hollywood studio assistant finally turns the tables on his incredibly abusive producer boss.



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4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Matthew Flint ...


A young Hollywood executive becomes the assistant to a big time movie producer who is the worst boss imaginable: abusive, abrasive and cruel. But soon things turn around when the young executive kidnaps his boss and visits all the cruelties back on him. Written by Jason Ihle <jrihl@conncoll.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In Hollywood all his dreams could come true... But first he has to make coffee. See more »


Comedy | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some scenes of psychological/physical torture and pervasive strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 April 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Boss  »

Box Office


$700,000 (estimated)


$376,928 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The oft-referenced Foster Kane is an obvious reference to Citizen Kane (1941). See more »


Near the end of the film when Guy is in the office and his friend asks him to put in a good word for him, Guy stubs out the same cigarette he is smoking, in 2 separate shots. See more »


Buddy: If they can't start a meeting without you, well, that's a meeting worth going to, isn't it? And that's the only kind of meeting you should ever concern yourselves with.
See more »


References A Place in the Sun (1951) See more »


Written and Performed by Mark Holden & Craig Minjanian
Published by Polygram Int'l Publishing, Inc. / Dreaming Dog
Music (ASCAP) /Minicott Music (BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

For anyone who's ever had a vindictive boss - or a job at all, for that matter
12 July 2005 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"Swimming with Sharks" was made right around the time Kevin Spacey was becoming a rising star - his name was becoming well known enough that he could help finance low budget movies. Along with "The Usual Suspects" he helped "Swimming with Sharks" get off the ground, and now ten years later (it was given wide release in 1995) it still holds up well as a very, very dark comedy.

In fact, comedy isn't the right word. This shouldn't really be classified as comedy. It's not that funny. It works better as a dark satire - I expected something like "War of the Roses," but instead I got a Tarantino version of "Office Space" (complete with torture, violence, revenge and mayhem!).

Frank Whaley stars as Guy, a typical nobody who dreams of being a somebody. (Even his name confines him to anonymity.) When he lands a job working for world-famous producer Buddy Ackerman (Spacey), his future looks bright...until he realizes what he's in for.

Spacey delivers the best performance of the film, yelling, screaming, and throwing hissy fits practically every time he's on screen. But he never pushes the limits. He's always believable as a self-absorbed, ego-maniacal, ruthless producer; the director claims on the DVD commentary track and documentaries that he based the character and many scenes on actual things that happened to him while he worked for unnamed producers in Hollywood. Joel Silver is rumored to have been the basis for Ackerman.

The movie isn't great and never really achieves the amount of laughs I wanted but if you view it as a very dark drama-comedy you're more likely to enjoy it. I still found myself quite entertained and taken aback by how daring and unique this movie actually is - no one can condemn it for resorting to clichés. The ending is a punch in the stomach, I never expected it.

Whaley is good at playing the over/underwhelmed everyman and the direction is OK (if just so). The best aspects are the witty script and Kevin Spacey's scene-stealing performance; together he has good chemistry with Whaley and the movie succeeds based on the actors' success in their roles.

34 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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