Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Starring: Kevin Costner, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez
Director: Desmond Davis
Time: 120 mins.
Kevin Costner stars in Swing Vote, a clever, feel good “landslide” comedy winner. “So funny and inspiring you’ll stand up and cheer!”(Pete Hammond, Hollywood.com). And on Blu-ray it’s even better.
Bud Johnson’s an ordinary dad drifting through life, caring about nothing except for his overachieving daughter, Molly. Trying to get him involved, Molly accidentally sets of a chain of events on Election Day that ends with the presidential race coming down to one vote – Bud’s. Comedic chaos ensues as Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci and George Lopez give all-star support in a witty and uplifting film that’s “charming, funny, smart, touching and profound!” (Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood) – especially in brilliant Blu-ray High Definition.
What a strange movie.
Swing Vote seems, note the operative word here – seems, to be an attempt to do a Capra-esque updated version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The joke here is Washington Comes To Mr. Smith nee Bud Johnson.
Yet the most unlikeable character in the movie is Kevin Costner’s – Bud Johnson. He is divorced, works in a dead end factory job where the workers are being – haha! – insourced. The only bright spot in Bud’s life is his daughter, Molly. The way Bud treats his daughter; taking her for granted and constantly hurting and disappointing Molly earn Costner’s character no favors. A short appearance by Mare Winningham as Molly’s mother, as a woman with mental and drug problems has the unintentional result of furthering distancing Bud as a character of any sympathy.
Swing Vote openly uses the voting brouhaha that happened with the Presidential Election between George Bush and Al Gore in 2000. The voting was so close that it came down to a recount in one state, Florida. Swing Vote takes that scenario to the Nth level where the future of the Presidency rests on one man. Yep, Bud Johnson.
The Bud Johnson Sympathy Train loses another car as Bud did not even vote. Mmhmm, you guessed it. Molly tried to vote in his place when Bud stays at the local watering hole and disappoints again. That ruined vote becomes the sole deciding ticket that stands between the Oval Office and the Presidential Incumbent played by Kelsey Grammer and his opponent, played by Dennis Hopper. And both Grammer and Hopper come off as principled and empathetic characters far in excess of any thing invoked by Bud.
By this point in the movie there are no further cars to unhook from the Sympathy Train but the hits keep on coming. Bud, of course, becomes an instant celebrity as the man who will decide the future of the US. He milks it for all its worth as Grammer and Hopper do their utmost best to schmooze his vote in their favour. The film also makes some ill conceived attempts at humor using Gay Rights and the Right to Life issues as the launch pads for some serious comic misfires. By the time Bud has his epiphany near the end of the movie it is far too late.
To top it off, the movie ends at the very moment when it starts to get truly interesting.
Crave Factor – 3
Swing Vote gets a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 ration.
It is very life like and natural looking even though the film itself is pedestrian in presentation and style.
Detail is good and the white and black levels are solid but nothing about this will knock anyone’s socks off.
Crave Factor – 7
For a film with such modest audio ambitions a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track is overkill. Dialogue is natural but there is little directionality in this soundscape. Not really a detriment as there are no action sequences in this very talky picture.
Crave Factor – 7
Swing Vote gets some extras though why anyone would feel compelled to watch them beyond anyone that has to review this disc is a mystery I would love to investigate. Kudos to Disney for presenting them in full 1080 HD.
- Audio Commentary – Writer-director Joshua Michael Stern and co-writer Jason Richman do the usual song and dance but the thinness of the movie concept makes it tough for them to fill out the entire commentary with interesting banter.
- Featurette: “Inside the Campaign: The Politics of Production” (HD, 13 minutes) – A typical EPK style featurette that covers the basics including casting, and locations.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 11 minutes) – Four forgettable scenes strung together without any breaks. Stern and Richman provide optional commentary.
- Music Video (HD) – Kevin Costner’s band Modern West performs the tune “Hey Man, What About You?” Is this the real reason Costner did the movie?
Crave Factor – 5
Menu & Packaging
Standard BluRay AmRay style case.
Crave Factor – 7
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
This one is a real misfire but because everyone, except Bud, is amiable enough it will be digested with little fuss.
It will also be very quickly expelled and forgotten.
Overall Crave Factor – 5