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In a remarkable turn-of-events, the result of the presidential election comes down to one man's vote.
This is your typical TAGLINE movie in Hollywood. Meaning that the concept alone makes the studio executives heads turn up during the pitch meeting. "An ordinary man's vote will decide the election." An interesting idea that can be marketed nicely, especially during an election year.
In reality, Swing Vote is about a young girl named Molly Johnson who is searching for a mentor in her life because she's smart enough to know that she can't do it alone. Played brilliantly by 12 year old actress Madeline Carroll, Molly is without a mother and doesn't have much of a father either.
Kevin Costner plays the man with the Swing Vote with the fitting name of Bud Johnson. Unexpected events and a little help with his daughter has lead Bud with the last vote of the Presidential election that will decide who will win: the Democratic candidate and or the Republican candidate.
For those expecting to see a political film that talks about the issues of Americana will be disappointed. There are problems in this society yes, perhaps too many to discuss and to pinpoint. So the filmmaking team decided to talk about what they think the main problem is: There is a blatant lack of a strong mentor and leader. And perhaps they are right.
Even the current President (played nicely by Kelsey Grammer) is aware of that. And so does Molly who represents most of the kids and lower-class people in the U.S.. They want to be happy and successful in their life, but they don't know how and are desperately looking for someone to show them the way.
Kevin Costner does a fine job playing the not-so-smart Bud. A role that will probably be overlooked because people don't know how good an actor you need to be to play someone so stupid. It's almost a thankless role that many movie-stars wouldn't touch with a 10-foot-pole. Russell Crowe in this reviewers opinion is the finest actor working today. But I can't see him playing a role like this. It's just something he probably wouldn't be able to pull off as it's not in his grammar.
So I'm here to say before anyone else does that Keven Costner's role in this film is the best performance so far this year.
The screenplay of Swing Vote by Jason Richman and director Joshua Michael Stern, is very good. It shows us the thought patterns of a guy who really doesn't know how life works or how to comport himself outside his limited intellect. His scenes with the hopeful presidents to be are sharp, funny and painful to watch. Bud just wants to feel comfortable in this overwhelming situation, so he needs to make jokes and be a buffoon in order to do that. But there is a cost to this and Bud must face it at the end.
Mixed with this high concept plot is a simple thesis question presented to us in the beginning that will or not be answered at the end of the movie. Will Bud Johnson prove to be a good role model for his 12 year old daughter?So in typical Hollywood fashion, a high concept forces the main character to become a better person and a good role model for the next generation. Watching Swing Vote makes you wish that everyone could go through a Hollywood plot and its conflicts that occur to force you to become a better person.
I liked this film but didn't love it. It's a tad long and overdrawn at times and sometimes the audience is ahead of movie as other times the audience is behind it. There is a core editing and pacing problem in this film and it's too bad. But I do recommend it because it has a lot more than most films that have come out of Hollywood this year.
3 stars out of 4 for Swing Vote!