Swing Vote Review
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With an ever-important presidential election just a few months away, director Joshua Michael Stern offers a thought-provoking public service announcement in the form of the new political comedy, Swing Vote.

Swing Vote is the story of a presidential election that comes down to the vote of just one man: below-average joe Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner). After losing his factory job on Election Day, Bud heads to the bar instead of meeting his brainy daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll), at the polling station. So when no one’s looking, Molly sneaks in to cast his vote for him.

Due to a computer glitch, Molly/Bud’s vote is lost—so when the election comes down to the five electors in the tied-up swing state of New Mexico, Bud’s asked to recast his vote. And when an ambitious TV reporter reveals Bud’s identity to the world, both candidates—current President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and democratic hopeful Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper)—arrive in New Mexico to try to win his vote.

Swing Vote is a smart political commentary that’s cleverly disguised as a light summer comedy. It doesn’t take sides, and it doesn’t preach too much—but, at some point, between laughs, you’ll realize that it’s trying to tell you something.

Perhaps I especially appreciated the story because it shares my cynical view of politics—that politicians will say whatever it takes to get the most votes. In this case, they’ll say anything to get just one vote. And if that means changing a major party platform, so be it. The results are often hilarious—especially when the candidates start producing over-the-top commercials focused solely on Bud’s personal views and values.

At one point, for just a minute or two, the exasperated president realizes what’s going on, and he asks his campaign manager, “What are we about?”

The quick and honest answer: “Winning!”

And at the center of it all is one completely clueless American. Costner’s character may be lazy and aimless, but you can’t help but be taken in by his amazement at the whole ordeal. Molly, meanwhile, is the heart of the operation. She’s the one who really, truly cares—and who understands the importance of the decision—and Carroll plays the role with the right mix of passion and naivete.

As the story continues, you’ll wonder if Bud will ever wise up—and which candidate will eventually win his vote. And while the film’s surprising conclusion will certainly frustrate loads of moviegoers, I couldn’t imagine it ending any other way—because it only reinforces the movie’s point.

Sure, the plot may be a bit far-fetched—but it poses some interesting questions. And while the story is sometimes a bit sappy (and perhaps just a little bit preachy at times), its point comes through loud and clear. At the same time, though, it leaves you with a dilemma: sure, your vote counts, but how do you choose the right candidate if they’re only making empty promises to win votes?

Still, Swing Vote is a fun comedy that will make you think while it’s making you laugh. And when it’s all over, I’m sure you’ll think twice about heading to the bar on Election Day instead of heading to the polls.

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