A high school swim champion with a troubled past enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard's "A" School, where legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall teaches him some hard lessons about loss, love, and self-sacrifice.
1926. The Chinese Civil War. Drifter Ted Beaubien is captured and forced to witness his girlfriend's execution. He finally escapes and vows to avenge her death by taking on a deadly mission... See full summary »
November, 2004, New Mexico. Bud is a slacker with one good thing in his life, his engaging fifth-grade daughter Molly. On election day, Bud is supposed to meet her at the polling place. When he doesn't show, she sneaks a ballot and is about to vote when the power goes off. It turns out that New Mexico's electoral votes will decide the contest, and there it's tied with one vote needing recasting - Bud's. The world's media and both presidential candidates, including the current President, descend on Bud in anticipation of his re-vote in two weeks. Can the clueless Bud, even with the help of Molly and a local TV reporter, handle this responsibility? Written by
Mare Winningham's character makes references to a history of drug addiction. In Wyatt Earp (1994) she played Mattie Blaylock, a laudanum addict who was Wyatt (Kevin Costner)'s common-law wife. See more »
When Bud and his daughter are first riding in their pick-up truck, the transmission is clearly in park. See more »
After a hotly contested race Americans go to the polls today for what promises to be a very close election. The Republican incumbent Andrew Carrington is hoping to hold on to the Oval Office, taking on Democratic challenger...
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Costner's Charisma and a Couple of Sharp Jabs at Dems and Republicans
"Swing Vote" is a good movie. It could have been great, but it isn't, but it is still good. At its best, it invokes Frank Capra's classic films on politics, including "Meet John Doe" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." It never reaches their level, though, and that failure to hit the top is a bit frustrating.
An older, dumpier, and shabbier Kevin Costner is the best part of the film. Costner is a star and that shows here. Even the grunge that is his costume in almost every scene can't disguise his charisma. Costner's voice has not aged and he uses it to great effect, especially in a final speech.
The film draws laughs by parodying our two major political parties, with a Democratic presidential candidate starring in the funniest anti-abortion TV commercial ever made (no doubt its competition was slim, but it is very funny) and a Republican presidential candidate touting his party's tender concern for the environment.
These excellent scenes make you wish that the movie had gone deeper. It doesn't, though. It veers off into dead-end soap opera subplots about Costner's daughter's boyfriend from school and her attempt to live with her estranged mother (Mare Winningham, in a role that should have ended up on the editing room floor, as it contributes nothing to the film.) The casting wasn't great. The two presidential candidates and their aids end up being cardboard cut-out stereotypes of Machiavellian evil (Stanley Tucci) and compromise (Nathan Lane). Kelsey Grammar and Dennis Hopper, as the candidates, never transcend their "Frasier" and "Easy Rider" personas. Other actors, perhaps unknowns, should have been cast in these two key roles.
Paula Patton, the woman who played what would have been the Barbara Stanwyck role in the Frank Capra movie, was pretty as a little doll and a complete bore. This is part of a pattern in today's Hollywood; female leads must have the perfectly perky looks of a plastic doll; there's no need for them to be talented. Male leads, like Costner, can be beat-up, and slovenly, but must be talented. Patton's role, that of the desperate, sharp, female reporter who gains inside knowledge of a national story, is underwritten, and she does nothing with it. It's a dead-end, and that's a shame. It makes me want to rewatch "Meet John Doe" in which Stanwyck worked so well as the female reporter.
Overall, though, this movie is better than much else at the multiplex, and it at least ventures into the world of ideas.
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