A light political comedy that came out last year, "Swing Vote" doesn't strive to offer much insight into politics - it's simply a warm, light comedy/drama that happens to have politics going on in the background. The film stars Kevin Costner as Bud Johnson, a middle-aged guy who spends his days working at an egg processing plant in New Mexico and trying to take care of his daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll).
The latest Presidential election is coming up, and it's between Republican incumbent Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and Democrat challenger Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) - however, Bud couldn't care less, as he takes the viewpoint that his lone vote doesn't matter. His daughter offers just the opposite: she believes that every vote counts, and continually pushes her father towards the idea of making the time to visit the local polling place.
However, things don't go exactly as planned, but Molly comes up with a plan to make it seem as if he did visit the polling place. On election night, the whole election comes down to New Mexico, and Bud's vote was not counted - as a result, the entire presidency comes down to one man who previously had believed that his vote was of no consequence.
When the press finds out it's Bud, both the media and the candidates turn the tiny town into a media circus, trying to either report on or influence Bud's decision (the campaigns start trying to promote themselves in ads as being for whatever they think Bud is for) or - in the case of local reporter Kate Madison (Paula Patton) - trying to make their career on the story. While the movie certainly has its moments, there's not enough to the tale for two hours, and this aspect of the story could have been one of the elements to land on the editing room floor.
The results are predictable and more than a little old-fashioned (additionally, the film's look into politics is not exactly deep by any means, I don't think it aspired to be a great political satire), but the movie does manage to coast on its charm through much of the running time. The performances are also pretty good, as well - Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane (and Tucci and Lane are inspired pairings with Grammer and Hopper) do a fine job as the candidate's campaign managers. While Costner could likely do this role in his sleep (and this isn't the actor's best effort), there's also the feeling that this is a Kevin Costner role, and was likely written specifically for the actor. Carroll is one of the best things about the movie, offering a genuine and moving performance.
Overall, "Swing Vote" swings and misses when it comes to how the film explores politics, but it remains watchable as an easygoing comedy/melodrama, with performances that carry it over the finish line in satisfactory fashion.
VIDEO: "Swing Vote" is presented by Touchstone Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is generally terrific, and falls into line with what one would expect from a recent theatrical release. Sharpness and detail are (aside from a couple of minor exceptions) quite good, as the film usually appeared crisp and well-defined.
Some slight edge enhancement was spotted at times, but didn't cause too much disturbance. Otherwise, the transfer only suffers from a few slight traces of pixelation. No print flaws or additional concerns were seen. The film's warm, bright color palette looked spot-on, with no smearing or other concerns seen.
SOUND: "Swing Vote" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. While the film's score contains some classic tunes, there's not too much else going on in this comedy mix. Aside from a few instances of ambience and reinforcement of the score, the rear speakers are largely silent. Audio quality is fine, with a crisp, full score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: "The Politics of Production" is a "making of" documentary that is more than a little promotional (while I didn't dislike the film, hearing Costner calling it an "American classic" in this documentary was a tad surprising.) The documentary does provide some insights into casting and the performances, but this featurette otherwise just skims the surface. writer Jason Richman and director Joshua Michael Stern provide a commentary for four deleted/extended scenes, as well as the film. Their commentary for the film is fairly slow going, as the two offer praise for the actors and stretches where they essentially narrate the story, as well as the occasional behind-the-scenes tale. Finally, we also get a music video.
Final Thoughts: "Swing Vote" comes up short in terms of politics and the film runs a good 20-25 minutes too long, but the film remains watchable thanks to a fine cast. The DVD provides very good audio/video quality, as well as a few decent extras. Worth a rental for fans of the actors.
The Film B-