| Note: Two Movie Reviews submitted for "Swing Vote" by Keith Cohen and Jolene Mendez.
Thumbs-up for 'Swing Vote'
2 1/2 Stars (Out of four)
Review by Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"
Kevin Costner stars in this lightweight political comedy about the importance of every citizen exercising their right to vote.
Bud Johnson (Costner) is an apathetic, beer-drinking, lovable loser. The only good thing outside of fishing in a humdrum existence is his smart and self-reliant 12-year-old daughter Molly (newcomer Madeline Carroll). When Bud fails to show up at the bingo hall to vote, his spunky daughter sneaks past the snoozing attendant, signs the register and inserts a ballot into the electronic machine. The vote does not get recorded because the plug is pulled from the wall outlet by a cleaning woman.
It turns out that the presidential election is a dead-heat with only New Mexico’s five electoral votes up in the air. The national spotlight shines on this nobody from Curry County who has 10 days to decide who will be “the leader of the free world.”
Bud doesn’t even know who is running for office. The press and the candidates converge on his trailer home and the small town of Texico like invading armies preparing for battle.
The Republican incumbent, Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer), enlists race car driver Richard Petty to escort Bud and Molly to Air Force One. Boone, resembling the late Gerald Ford, uses football analogies to win over Bud, who was a high school quarterback.
Democratic challenger Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) runs a campaign commercial where singer Willie Nelson invites Bud to a shindig in his honor. Bud loves being the center of attention. The movie satirizes the political process and the cutthroat pandering tactics employed to win an election. There are some clever campaign ads and slogans as the candidates flip-flop on the issues. The witty dialogue elicits lots of laughs.
This family-friendly film is full of sweet, sentimental moments that revolve around the dynamics of the father-daughter relationship. Costner is always a crowd favorite and wins you over to his side again with this slovenly, unshaven and hung-over character who frequently expresses himself by swearing.
Carroll shines as the cute, precocious fifth-grader. She is another talented tweener who will vie for the same roles sought by Abigail Breslin, Dakota Fanning and Anna Sophia Robb. Paula Patton distinguishes herself with poise and grace in the role of newscaster Kate Madison. She has cover girl beauty and a silky smooth complexion.
Grammer stands out in a supporting cast that includes Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, Judge Reinhold, George Lopez and Mare Winningham. Several recognizable political pundits from cable news outlets make cameo appearances.
Other strengths are the Southwestern landscape and a lively soundtrack of country tunes. Costner plays the guitar and sings two numbers with his Modern West band. This fun and entertaining diversion gets my thumbs-up vote at the box office.
1 1/2 Stars (Out of 4)
Review by Jolene Mendez
One ordinary guy is going to choose the next president, unlikely to ever happen right? Not so in Swing Vote. Starring as ordinary voter Bud Johnson is Kevin Costner. Bud has just been laid off from work and is trying to take care of his young daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll). Molly seems a little too grown up already, tending to her drunken father. For a school project Molly's report on why voting is important is used for a local news report. It's important to Molly that her father votes, as she wants him to do something that will possibly make a difference. Hoping her wishes would be enough to inspire him to follow through, Molly is sadly disappointed by her father again and takes the voting into her own hands.
The election board quickly responds to a glitch, in which the election is being held up due to an error vote in one county. When Bud's vote is not counted, the media quickly gets wind of this and it is announced that Bud is the single voter who will decide who the next president is. The two parties immediately want to know who this voter is and want to meet him personally. They both travel to Texico, New Mexico to meet Bud and his daughter. President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) tries to swoon Bud with a private tour of Air Force One. A party is held in Bud's honor by the democratic runner Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper). Molly is even more ashamed of her father when she sees he still does not care about the issues but seems to be enjoying the "good life". Will Molly's message ever reach her dad and get him to realize what a true president is?
Swing Vote turned out to be a long voting commercial. It could also suffice as a parenting lesson to all on how not to act when you are raising a child. After about half way through, you know this film is not getting any better. It was already unbelievable going in and it just could not be salvaged. I enjoyed Costner's naïve performance as Bud, but this show went to Madeline Carroll as Molly. If there is anything positive from this film Carroll offered a stellar performance and proved to be a newcomer to be reckoned with. Overall "Swing Vote" was left unresolved in the end and could not sustain a viewing audience for the 100 minute run time. It would be much better viewed at home, so you may doze off comfortably.