Rated: PG-13 for language.
Release Date: 2008-08-01
Starring: Joshua Michael Stern, Jason Richman
Official Website: http://swingvote.movies.go.com/
SWING VOTE: ELECT TO SEE SOMETHING ELSE
Few would argue that Hollywood, as a whole, is a pretty ‘liberal’ industry whose star studded cast often shows its support by way of propaganda and sizable donations to left-winged presidential nominees every four years. Nowadays, whenever filmmakers have the opportunity to chastise our republican administration in the not-so-subtle of ways, they’ve taken it and in some cases exploited it – and I’m not just talking about Michael Moore and his rattling documentaries. Take films such as ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘Transformers’, to name a more recent one, where the political jabs are more humorous than they are sharp.
Nevertheless, there are those, more conservative members of Hollywood, that from time to time strike back. Which is why it’s so surprising to see actor Kevin Costner, a registered republican, so decidedly neutral in this latest comedy about a middle-class american who will decide the next president of our country. Instead, the Costner produced movie, tries to focus itself on a father-daughter relationship while only underlining the importance of our civic duty. But that’s as much credit as I can give Swing Vote.
In it, Costner plays Bud Johnson, an apathetic, disorderly, but lovable father who is coasting through a life that has almost passed him by. The only bright spot is his overly precocious and overachieving 12-year-old daughter Molly (Madeleine Carroll) who in this case, is the one that takes care of him. That is, until one mischievous moment on Election Day, when she attempts to vote on Bud’s behalf when he is too drunk to show up to the booth. Later that night, when the tallies are all in, the nomination happens to come down to one final vote – Bud’s vote – which needs to be recast because of a technical error in the voting machine. The media soon takes hold of the news and within minutes, the courtship from both campaigns are full throttle.
But It’s that same courtship to win over Bud’s vote, that makes this film hard to watch. The politicians in the movie, played by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper are merely stereotypical representations of the republican and democratic party respectively, and consequently, the ways in which they attempt to win over Bud’s affection are beyond predictable.
Then there’s the media – represented by George Lopez as the local, cutthroat news director and his journalist on the rise Kate Madison (played by Paula Patton), but both come off as one-dimensional.
Costner seems more than complaisant with the notion of letting little Madeleine Carroll carry the movie, but she is too precocious for her own good. If she were more like a ‘kid’ then perhaps it would be easier for us to empathize with her and the situation she’s in.
Notwithstanding, the film does deliver a couple of Disneyesque moments where Costner’s character finally shows some arc. Unfortunately, they come way too late in the story, at a time when all you want to know is who ends up being president so you can leave the theater. However, even those curious of the outcome will be seriously disappointed.