Review: Swing Vote
Plot: When his vote does not get registered due to an electronic malfunction, the United States Presidential election is left in the hands of Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), an unemployed single father from a small town in New Mexico.
Review: I don't get why so many people out there seem to hate Kevin Costner. Sure WATERWORLD & THE POSTMAN were pretty damn bad, but the guy still has a fairly impressive track record. THE UNTOUCHABLES, NO WAY OUT, JFK, and even ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (despite his atrocious English accent & rockin' mullet) were all damn fine films. Also- let's not forget that the man won two Oscars for DANCES WITH WOLVES (even though they should have gone to Scorsese for GOODFELLAS). Hell, I even kinda liked OPEN RANGE- so I went into SWING VOTE with an open mind.
Despite the fact that it's been panned left and right SWING VOTE is actually not that bad a film. It's a very Capra-esque fable with Costner playing the everyman in the same way Gary Cooper did in MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, and Jimmy Stewart did in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. SWING VOTE is nowhere near as good as those films (especially SMITH, which is a masterpiece), but it is entertaining, and actually somewhat heartwarming at times.
Many are saying that the film has a Republican slant and while Kelsey Grammer's Republican candidate is portrayed a little more sympathetically than Dennis Hopper's Democrat, both parties take a beating. I found it amusing that both candidates are portrayed as fairly benevolent while their campaign managers, played by Stanley Tucci & Nathan Lane, are made out to be absolute scum. By the end of the film both parties have tried to win Bud over by completely changing platforms to the point that the Republicans are like Democrats & the Democrats are like Republicans. The film includes two hilarious mock campaign commercials with Grammer advocating gay marriage in a unbelievably over the top ad and Hopper coming down hard on abortion in a scene that's hilariously offensive and probably the single funniest scene in the film.
While I mostly liked SWING VOTE I will admit that the film has a few problems. The most glaring problem is that the film goes on way too long. It pushes the two hour mark when the whole thing should have been over in ninety minutes. A subplot involving Paula Patton's overzealous reporter seems out of place, and could have easily been trimmed. The heart of the film is the relationship between Bud & his smart daughter memorably played by newcomer Madeline Carroll. The focus should have stayed on them and the candidates- and Patton's whole subplot seems like gratuitous padding, I also thought the film went a little heavy on the schmaltz at times, but that's to be expected from a film like this.
Overall, SWING VOTE is a perfectly entertaining little film, and worth checking out if you're a Costner fan. Also- Judge Reinhold pops up rocking a mullet & a handlebar mustache. Nuff said.
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