Swing Vote – Blu-ray Review
By Jeff Swindoll Jan 14, 2009, 13:03 GMT
Kevin Costner stars in the hilarious timely comedy Swing Vote as Bud Johnson, an Average Joe, who is coasting through life with the help of Molly, his wise-beyond-her-years daughter. In a remarkable turn-of-events, the result of the presidential election comes down to his vote. Costner is joined by a brilliant all-star cast including Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci and George Lopez who will stop at nothing to ...more
“You’re ruining America.”
Perhaps the story behind Swing Vote isn’t as implausible as we might’ve thought in years past. We’ve a highly contested election in 2000 and in the current headlines a senator has supposedly been unseated by his challenger after numerous recounts, even though it looked like he was going to win.
Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is a na’er-do-well everyman living in Texico, New Mexico who’s trying to singlehandedly raise his daughter, wake up on time, fish, and find out where his next beer is coming from.
Voting just doesn’t fall very highly in his priority list. His civic minded daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) wants Bud to vote in the tight presidential election. However, when Bud looses his job at the egg factory he lazes the evening off by playing pool in the bar.
When he notices what time it is and the polls are closing he bashes his head on the “Vote Today” sign rushing outside the bar and falls asleep in his truck. Molly has been impatiently waiting Bud at the polls and when he doesn’t show she takes action.
One of the poll workers is dozing so she finds Bud’s ballot and tries to vote for him. The other poll worker is cleaning up and accidentally unplugs the electronic voting machine and Bud’s ballot gets stuck inside.
The next evening, the tight election amazingly comes down to whoever wins New Mexico. Officials show up (that Bud and Molly amusingly think are social services) to tell Bud that since his vote didn’t count that he’s allowed by law to vote ten days later and he swears to do so.
Local news reporter Kate Madison (Paula Patton) finds out that it’s Bud who must cast the decisive vote and puts the story on the airwaves. Now the serving Republican President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and his opponent Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) and their entourages and news crews descend on the small New Mexico town to try and make sure that Bud’s vote counts.
If there wasn’t a cynical streak in some of the picture, we might be tempted to call the film Capra-corn. However, it’s that cynicism that places the film purely in our modern times. This occurs when Molly goes looking for her mother and finds that her mother may be even worse off than the lazy Bud. I much preferred the comedy aspects of the film – give me the Capra-corn over the dusty reality.
What’s funny to watch is the media falling all over themselves and the candidates having to play to one man. Both parties misunderstand what Bud says and appear to go against their core values to try and win him over – resulting in some hilarious ads.
Both Grammer and Hopper are fine in their roles with Grammer coming off as stalwart and statesmanlike after shuffling off his handler. Both candidates are cogs in the wheels of their political machines (represented by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane) and have to pander to the Bud with lavish presentations.
However, I got the impression in the film that Grammer really started to like ole’ Bud and though Hopper really didn’t dislike him or anything he still had to pander by reading fishing tips off of cue cards. Heck though, that’s just politics as you pander to whatever group you happen to be chatting with.
Bud cruises through the film not really caring and just soaking up the celebrity, but has a change of heart towards the end of the film and Capra lives again. I thought the film was a good one, but did seem a bit long at over two hours and might’ve emphasized the comedic aspects a bit more.
The Blu-ray presentation is delightfully clear and crisp. So much so that you can see wrinkles on some of the aging stars that had me thinking “boy doesn’t [insert name here] look old.”
Swing Vote is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). Special features include a commentary by writer/director Joshua Michael Stern and writer Jason Richman. The special features are also presented in high definition. These include 10 minutes of deleted scenes, with optional commentary, the 13 minute “Inside the Campaign,” and the 4 minute “Hey Man What About You?” music video.
Swing Vote is a film that, like all politicians, tends to waffle a bit between sentimentality and the cold truth. I found it a likeable comedy, but thought it could’ve used some trimming. I did decide to cast my vote with Bud though and I didn’t regret it.