It’ll be interesting to see how Kevin Costner’s Swing Vote (Touchstone, August 1), the apparent mixed-feeling story of an apathetic, apolitical (read: American) loser who ends up casting the tie-breaking vote in a presidential election, plays in a such a momentous election year.
Watching the trailer, one goes through a few sea changes in emotion. If this is being played in something approaching only slightly canted reality, which it seems to be, there seems to be an awful lot of hoops to jump through to set up this conceit, and I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Barry Levinson’s Man of the Year, which terribly fumbled away a somewhat similarly interesting socio-political concept. The notion of a national election being held hostage by a single vote — especially post-Florida 2000 — may be too big of a bite to chew.
A nominal tick in Swing Vote‘s favor is that it’s co-written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, who did decent things with Neverwas; a big shrug comes in the form of the casting of Dennis Hopper and Kelsey Grammer as the candidates, though the trailer presents them as little more than ciphers. The participation of Paula Patton — so good in Idlewild and Déjà Vu — as a reporter has me intrigued, especially with regards to her billing; the participation of Nathan Lane, though, does not. On the other hand, Madeline Carroll, the naturalistic young girl playing Costner’s 12-year-old daughter, seems pretty good, less Abigail Breslin-y than I would have expected.
Costner took a crazy-hard swing for the fence with last summer’s serial killer flick Mr. Brooks, which I guess in a way I do sincerely appreciate. Costner every two years in rumpled, angry and/or weirded out fashion (e.g., The Upside of Anger) is better than him every year in something for which he doesn’t have any passion (e.g., The Guardian), no matter how much the movie works on its own merits. The question with Swing Vote, though, is how much Edtv — which is to say toothless satire masquerading as wacky, fun-time hijinks — is there? That will determine whether I break enthused or irritated, even if the movie likely won’t crack $35 to $40 million. Again, to view the trailer, click here.