Movie Review – Swing Vote

I went to see “Swing vote” yesterday and I have to say it was actually quite good! It can’t be compared to other Costner classics, like “Field of Dreams“, “The Bodyguard“, “Bull Durham“, or “Message in a Bottle“. But it also doesn’t fall to the level of Costner bombs, like “The Postman” or “Waterworld“, either! It was good, but not great……

To summarize what you already know if you saw any of the trailers: Costner plays a man named Bud, who is a lazy, drunk, single father who would rather sleep or drink than work. His daughter, Molly, played by Madeline Carroll, is very smart and civic minded. She takes on the roll of “parent” to keep the small family going and get her Dad out of bed and on to work – most days. Molly tries to get Bud to care about the world around him and make him understand the importance of voting in the Presidential election. She tells him to meet her at the voting place after work to pick her up! But – after getting laid off from his job at the egg packing plant, he goes to the local bar, gets drunk, and passes out instead of meeting her. Hurt, frustrated, and determined to have Bud’s (her) political voice heard, Molly takes advantage of the chance to sneak into the building, sign Bud’s name, get his ballot, and cast it! But, a malfunction results in his ballot getting scanned, but not counted. Then, in a “could never happen in a million years” turn of events, the outcome of the Presidential election is a dead heat and it is discovered that one vote in tiny Texico, New Mexico wasn’t counted. Once the mis-cast vote is re-cast, it would be the deciding vote! Of course, the media finds out who that one voter is and the entire world’s media and the two politicians swarm onto him to find out who he is and how they can get his vote!

Now for my opinion: (warning — there may be some minor spoilers here — but not enough to ruin the movie — I promise!) The actors they cast were perfect — Costner seems comfortable playing the bum, Bud – a little too comfortable – ha-ha! He is a natural actor that is able to fit into whatever character he plays – this was no exception! Madeline Carroll is wonderful as his daughter. Kelsey Grammer does a nice job as the incumbent President. I found it hard to believe Dennis Hopper as a Presidential candidate, though — I’m sorry, I know it was 40-some years ago and he’s done a TON of other films, but every time I see him, I still picture Billy from “Easy Rider” and just can’t imagine him as a potential President of the United States! ha-ha Then, there was Stanley Tucci — I adore Tucci — he is a great character actor! I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of him as Grammer’s campaign manager. He can make a movie — like his character in “Devil Wears Prada“, for example!

Yes, the story line is far fetched – so are the story lines from a lot of movies! But, this one actually makes some strong statements! It is funny, touching (there were some scenes that brought tears to my eyes – yeah, I know – what else is new), and does a good job of sending a powerful message in a tongue-in-cheek format! Here are some of the messages I got out of the movie:

  • Obviously, the importance of voting and how every single vote counts – even though it doesn’t usually get quite this literal! There is a statement in one of the press broadcasts that says, “I’ll bet if there is anyone in Texico that didn’t bother to vote, you’re kicking yourself now!”
  • We should constantly be reminded of what is most important in our lives — family, friends, personal relationships! Pay attention — care for them — show them you understand what is important to them!
  • Politicians will do ANYTHING to get your vote — whether they believe in it or not!!! The two candidates switched their platforms and changed what they had stood for all along just because they thought that was what Bud wanted to hear!!! They bent over backwards to pretend to like what Bud likes! It was sickening — but totally believable!!! I can just see real politicians doing exactly the same thing if the situation were real……
  • We need to do more to make sure that politicians know what is important to US — not what they want us to think is important to us!!! Yeah, the big issues are important — but when it comes right down to what matters to your ability to live comfortably and provide for your family, they tend to not have a clue!!! The final scene where Bud gets to ask questions of the candidates in a televised debate is incredible!!! He begins by talking about his life and his previous interest (or lack there of) for politics. Then he uses letters he had received from people across the nation to come up with the questions — they only show the first one, but it is a doozy!!

You don’t find out who Bud votes for, but that is OK — it wasn’t the point!!! The point was the process he finally went through to come to that decision and how important it is to go through that process!

So — I do recommend this movie! Like I said, it’s probably not destined to be a classic, but it was enjoyable and even thought provoking! I give it a solid B or 3.75 out of a possible 5!

See you at the movies!

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