Mr. Movie

Costner, 'Swing Vote' fail to earn my vote

Kevin Costner plays an uneducated, non-involved, apolitical, drunk.

His 12-year old daughter is politically savvy and because he doesn’t know a thing about an important presidential election, on Election Day she has to explain the process to him.

He gets drunk and doesn’t make it to the polling place so she tries to vote for him. A power failure leaves his ballot in the machine and thrusts him into the limelight as the final vote in a deadlocked presidential election.

Kelsey Grammer plays the cliché conservative sitting president, and Dennis Hopper does his formula liberal challenger. Each is manipulated and has all of their buttons easily pushed by campaign managers with an agenda.

What you can like about Swing Vote is the casting. Newcomer Madeline Carroll does Costner’s daughter and is a terrific new talent. Brilliant character actors Nathan Lane and Stanley Tucci do the campaign managers, and Willie Nelson and racecar driver Richard Petty have cameos.

Even Costner is perfectly cast. With no personality and the dullest of dialogue delivery styles, he has finally does a character you can believe.

In TV sit-com fashion, Swing Vote criticizes sound-bite savvy politicians who spin critical issues into 30-second clumps. It points out the insincerity of those seeking political office and their willingness to say or do anything to get elected.

No one gets left out. Plenty of fun is poked at slathering media types scrambling to out-scoop each other. The election process— Swing Vote says—is more about style than substance. Most Americans don’t care and worse, many don’t have any idea how their government or the political process works.

With 10 days to cast the deciding vote, Costner’s Bud Johnson would rather stay drunk and clueless. That’s the metaphor. Clueless, in this case, is a comedy with the clever delivery of the real message encased in the last reel.

Not counting Costner’s cliché-ridden speech, the movie has a great make-you-think ending. If only the beginning, the middle and the basic premise were that profound.

Mr. Movie rating: 1 star.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, language. It opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself