Swing Vote

Posted on: 24 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Kevin Costner stars in a topical and engaging US political comedy.

It is not often you find a film which touches the heart as well as the mind and also manages to be spot on in terms of timing but Joshua Michael Stern’s smart political comedy Swing Vote does just that.

Bud Johnson is an apathetic, beer-slinging, lovable loser who is coasting through a life that has nearly passed him by. His wife has run off to pursue a singing career, and after drifting from job to job, he falls foul of his latest employer.

The one bright spot is his precocious, overachieving 12-year-old daughter Molly.  She takes care of both of them until one mischievous moment on election day, when she accidentally sets off a chain of events which culminates in the election coming down to just one vote - her dad’s.

So the man who has been bypassed by everyone and everything in life and has in fact given up on the system, suddenly finds he is the most important man in America, courted by heavyweight politicos, their right-hand men and even the President himself.

The spirit of that great American director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) lives on in this warm and witty look at the journey of a father and daughter who discover that everyone has the power to change the world.

Furthermore the excellent script which skilfully avoids sentimentality or mawkishness, manages to combine the personal and the political to considerable effect. 

Director and screenwriter Joshua Michael Stern has elicited one of Kevin Costner’s best performances in the everyman role at the centre of the film, supported by a remarkably confident performance by relative newcomer Madeline Carroll as his daughter Molly.

Also making their mark are Kelsey Grammar as Republican incumbent President Andrew Boone, Dennis Hopper as Democratic hopeful Donald Greenleaf, Stanley Tucci as Martin Fox, the slick campaign manager to the Republican President and Paula Patton as a local small-town TV reporter with aspirations for a big-time network job.

With the current race to the White House seemingly neck and neck, the events depicted in this movie could well be the case of fiction turning to fact.

In short then this is a film which is sharp, funny and engaging and certainly gets my vote.

Laurence Green

Released nationwide 26th September 2008.

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