“My vote doesn’t count,” the traditional response to America’s voting turnout, was called on the carpet this weekend in Kevin Costner’s Swing Vote. The movie takes a slightly satirical look at America’s politicians, media and voters. It shows an unthinkable situation: a presidential race tied but for one man’s vote, and it tries to portray the citizen’s struggles with everything from raising his daughter alone to a fat reporter leaning on his car.
Candidate One is President Andrew Boone, a Republican president running for his second term. Played by Kelsey Grammer, he enjoys beer, football and teeth-whitening regimens. His campaign manager is immensely successful but endlessly corrupt, and holds no small degree of disdain for Mr. President’s plans to put his name in the history books. Although Grammer obviously enjoys playing the passionate politician, halving his screen time would have done the movie nothing but good.
Candidate Two is Donald Greenleaf, a down-to-earth Democrat dedicated to making the White House a “Rainbow House.” Under the guidance of his corrupt campaign manager, Candidate Greenleaf makes two of the most pointed pro-life and anti-immigration commercials yet seen, using real undocumented actors. Greenleaf is played by Dennis Hopper, who felt that his character was unnecessarily edited for time, but really, Swing Vote was a two-hour movie that should not have been more than 90 minutes.
The man in charge is Bud Johnson, played by Kevin Costner. This shiftless, beer-drinking loser correctly claims that his “one good thing” in life is his daughter. Bumbling and unemployed, Bud is shocked when the fate of the free world is dropped into his unskilled hands, but he claims that he is the “kind of guy who keeps an open mind.”
Madeline Carroll plays the brains of the operation as Molly Johnson, Bud’s unusually intelligent daughter. She keeps the movie in focus, preventing it from becoming a political slapstick.
Overall, the movie was enjoyable and creative, making some important points and maintaining quality drama without becoming sentimental. It is not a children’s movie due to language and political jokes, but otherwise worth the time.