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Swing Vote Movie Review: Are Americans That Dumb?

Aug 5, 2008
In "Swing Vote," Kevin Costner plays Bud Johnson, a newly unemployed factory worker whose well intentioned young daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll), insists that he vote in the presidential election. The movie starts out with Bud going out on election nite, getting drunk and passing out. Not being able to get to the polling station, Molly decides to illegally cast a vote in Bud's name, at which point the voting machine malfunctions. Bud's cast vote is thus not counted and becomes the deciding vote in the nations most hotly contested election.

The thing is, Costner, is not too good at playing dumb. An underrated actor whose all-American good looks always seem to be hiding the talents of intelligence and reserve. Costner comes across as much too self-aware to be playing this ballcap-wearing, belly-scratching nimrod. Think back to the movies, "The Upside of Anger" and "Mr. Brooks." In all actuality, Costner appears to be about 10 years too old for this role, and you left asking if they just couldn't find someone younger.

Other problems have to do with the movies character who supposedly doesn't know the difference between pro choice, and pro life. He doesn't even know who's running. But when NASCAR legend Richard Petty shows up outside his door to campain for the Republican candidate, Bud looks like a little kid who just got a pony at Christmas. What does this say about the stero type of middle America? Americans aren't that dumb.

Once the two candidates learn that Bud will be able to cast his vote again in 10 days, the two candidates, played by Kelsy Grammer and Dennis Hopper quickly come to the town of Texico, where Bud lives in a trailer. Wasted talents also include Stanley Tucci and Nahtan Lane who play the candidates slimey campaign managers.

Basically, textbook Hollywood fodder, "Swing Vote" does not take any sides, and pulls all the regular punches...That the candidates are hollow and will flip flop on a position at the drop of a dime in order to appeal to Bud.

The movies two underlying themes are that a father must learn to appreciate the importance of family, and civic duty. While noteworthy, the film does have a tendency to take itself too seriously, and also takes a wild detour when Bud's daughter decides to find her mentally unstable mother.

The movies climax and ending concludes with Bud casting his vote. But, the premise the Bud follows to cast his vote is so felonious and absurd, that you are left shaking your head at the rediculousness of the scene.
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