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New Rental: Swing Vote

January 23, 2009


I didn’t see Swing Vote in the theaters because I didn’t expect much from it and perhaps it is all the prescriptions or the pneumonia but watching it tonight, I enjoyed it for what it was worth.

Some very touching moments that are perhaps too saturated due to an oversentimental score intermingle with a rough and tumble story about a drunk who must wake up not only for his country but for his children. He is the “every man” if the every man is a trailer park alcoholic that just lost his factory job.

I guess now after our real election, he would be the Joe the Plumber, the guy who helps broadcast media sell a good story about the heartland of America.

But the sentiment was right, maybe just because I live in a town that held one of the presidential debates that helped shape the new direction our country is leading, or maybe just because we all need the occasional reminder that there is more out there than our own little lives. If only the film had been a little less cookie cutter.

The cast is excellent though with what they were given and Kevin Costner gives perhaps one of his better performances. Madeline Caroll who plays his daughter in the film makes the movie worth watching.

But of the most disappointment was the predictable script that was too schmaltzy to consider any real value to the political discussion of the country. Written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, I was saddened to see him turn in such an easy “American” movie. Stern started as a horror writer, and a good one at that, so I was surprised at just how simple the story line was for Swing Vote.

But it does give the audience what meaning it intended: provide a lesson that not only does every vote count, but more importantly, thoughtful consideration of the issues by every voter means even more. You are not just voting for a party or a name, you are making a decision for the future of everyone you know. The two candidates are forcefully shown as having a little depth (although this  is one of the weaker areas of the script how they all predictably on cue learn their lessons 3/4 through the film).

Played by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper, the two candidates do just about anything to win the vote only stepping back once they realize they’ve gone too far. This is the audience’s indicator that they are both good men who have listened to some bad advice. A convenient thought that both parties and all candidates are good guys and it is really everyone else that thinks about winning.Grammer plays his part well, but Hopper, the great Hopper, seems vaguely lost in his role.

If you are looking for the same sentiment but in a better fashion, see Bulworth.

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