By CAINE GARDNER
Swing Vote follows the life of Bud Johnson; a loveable, beer-swigging loser cruising through life until the actions of his 12-year-old daughter turn his life upside down.
Johnson (Kevin Costner) is an everyday American guy. He likes his beer, he likes his friends, hates his job and his irresponsibility continues to leave a wake of broken promises behind him.
His 12-year-old daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) is the exact opposite. She's the obvious head of the house and is the only component of Bud's life that is a constant.
As election day approaches, she is insistent that Bud get out and make his voice heard. Instead Bud loses his job, gets drunk and forgets to meet Molly at the poling station. Taking matters into her own hands, Molly sneaks into the station and attempts to vote for her father, but an electrical malfunction freezes 'Bud's' vote, which begins a chain of events that alters their lives forever.
After it's learned that the Presidential election has come down to a single vote, Bud's, political teams and news crews scramble to get a piece of the man who holds the key to the Presidency. The eyes of America descend on a rickety old trailer where Bud and Molly watch their lives unfold on television.
The town is turned upside down as both political parties converge on the town and attempt to court Mr. Johnson's deciding final vote. A man who have given up on most everything in his life, Johnson becomes the voice of the nation.
The film was essentially overlooked at the box office, falling short of its budget and drifting silently into the abyss.
Swing Vote takes a while to get to the meat of the story, but once it does, it proves to be a very timely, and unfortunately, an accurate depiction of how a scenario like this would works its way out.
It was wonderful to see how both Democrats and Republicans completely changed their stance on issues for the sole purpose of getting a vote. In a time when we are still coming down from our election highs, it makes you wonder what your candidates compromised to get to where they are.
This is Costner at his finest. Costner is a fine actor, but when he's playing an average, or below average Joe, is when he excels. Also bringing in solid performances are Kelsey Grammer as President Andrew Boone, Dennis Hopper as Democratic candidate Donald Greenleaf, Nathan Lane and Stanley Tucci. George Lopez also gives a hysterical performance in his short time on screen.
The star of this film is newcomer Carroll. This young actress more than holds her own with some heavyweights in the industry. At no point in the movie do you feel that she's not Molly. From the moment you see her rousting her father out of bed, she delivers an undeniably wonderful performance.
At one point in the film, she stands before her class when her father fails to show for "Bring your Father to School Day" and attempts to convince them, as well as herself, that he is taking the situation seriously. As she ends with 'My Dad wants to make this country a better place', tears race down her cheeks and it's difficult for the viewer to not do the same.
Carroll is an actress to keep your eyes on. Her performance surpasses anything I've seen from a young actress in some time.
Final Cut: Swing Vote is an enjoyable watch, with witty dialog and a loveable underdog quality. Top notch performances from Carroll and Coster gives the flick heart and grounds the film in a reality that we all can relate to. The film has a perfect ending.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Madeline Carroll
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writer: Jason Richman, Joshua Michael Stern
DVD Bonus Features
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* Making of Featurette
* Commentary Track