Empire - 10/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "It's broad and easygoing, more in tune with Frank Capra's swooning Americana of decent souls fighting the glum machinations of the system....[This] parable is political satire at its most laid-back..."
Writer/director Joshua Michael Stern (NEVERWAS) tackles American politics in his second feature film. Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is just your below-average Joe. He works in an egg factory, likes to knock back a few too many beers, and is a single parent to 12-year old Molly (Madeline Carroll), a bright spitfire who does her best to keep her dad on the straight and narrow. Patriotic Molly insists that apathetic Bud do his civic duty and vote in the upcoming presidential election, a tight race between Republican incumbent Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and Democratic candidate Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper). Soon the media and both candidates descend upon Bud's hometown of Texico, New Mexico, when it's determined that his vote wasn't counted and will decide the outcome of the entire presidential election. Now that Bud is a "somebody"--there's even a "Bud Cam" capturing his every move--will he be swayed by visits to Air Force One and the "Bud Ball" held in his honor, or will he be the voice of the American people and vote for the better candidate'
The lengths the candidates go to in order to win Bud's vote are high points of the film, as they find themselves supporting initiatives that are completely opposed to their platforms at the urging of their campaign managers, played by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane. Grammer is well cast as Boone, and it's a hoot to see counterculture icon Hopper in this light. Costner makes Bud likable despite the loser stereotype he personifies. But this film belongs to Carroll, a lovely young actress who can steal a scene with one look. If nothing else, SWING VOTE is a reminder that even though politics may be a game, every single vote really does count.
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