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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Swing Vote (2008)

Review: written Sep 2009

The polls are in, and we don’t have a winner..

Swing Vote (2008)

Here it is again, that peculiar mathematics of Hollywood, where Great Idea + Great Talent = mediocre movie. On the face of it, this must have been a great pitch. The idea of having a movie, which showed in movie theatres during one of the most interesting elections in years in the US, all about the importance of voting. A scenario where the voting is neck and neck and by a (very) peculiar circumstance, it all comes down to one.. swing... voter, in one.. small.. town. The candidates descend on small town America to woo this voter, and in the process expose the flaws of modern American voting, where candidates will sell their principles just to get the vote. Satirical, topical, and put in Kevin Costner as Bud, the everyman at the centre of it all, and what could go wrong!

Unfortunately, the satirical edge is blunted by a need to not take sides, and an overdose of syrup to keep it family oriented. Also, for a film marketed as a comedy, it's pretty unfunny.. there are a few fun moments watching Kelsey Grammar and Dennis Hopper as the candidates squirm and dance through hoops for that crucial vote, but frankly, thinking this would spin out to two hours worth of entertainment was a misfire. Costner is fine, but bear in mind you will be watching him as a (in the movies own words) sub-average American who drinks too much, for almost the entire movie - with just a bit of redemption where he gives that trademark American values speech at the end, before a cop-out ending. Best things about the movie are a really quite fantastic performance from the young Madeline Carroll as Bud's intelligent and sincere daughter, and the hysterically awful political TV spots the candidates design to cater to Bud.

Unfortunately though, where this could have been fascinating and dark, it turned out frothy and forgettable.





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