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Swing Vote - Blu-ray DVD / action adventure DVD / drama DVD review
SWING VOTE Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Kevin Costner, Madeline Carroll, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane
Director: Joshua Michael Stern Distributor: Touchstone / Disney
DVD release: 13 January 2009 Runtime: 120 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), "Inside The Campaign: The Politics Of Production," Deleted / extended scenes (w/ optional dir. commentary), Audio commentary (writer/director Joshua Michael Stern, writer Jason Richman)

I was pleasantly surprised by Joshua Michael Stern's Swing Vote. It's the unlikely story of Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) who, through a voting machine malfunction and other events, is the tie-breaker in an historically tight presidential election - think Minnesota's 2008 Senate race tight. According to New Mexico law, when this sort of thing happens, the voter gets to recast his ballot in a reasonable amount of time. Bud was a blue-collar worker at an egg-processing plant until recently. He drinks too much, gets up late, and would rather go fishing than do just about anything else. His daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll), a precocious, socially-minded girl talks him into voting to help with her school project. Bud is ignorant of the issues and really doesn't know who he'll vote for.

Ambitious reporter Kate Madison (Paula Patton) discovers that Bud is the guy who needs to recast his vote, and from there the flood gates open up. Reporters cover his front yard, vying for an interview with Bud or anyone who knows him - including the guy who just delivered a pizza to him. "How did he seem?" the reporter asks. "Hungry," is the reply.

The presidential candidates - incumbent Republican Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer), and Democratic hopeful Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) - target their campaigns to appeal to Bud, turning their backs on their ideals when they think it suits them. They wine him and dine him and do whatever else they can to impress him. Their campaign advisers Martin Fox (Stanley Tucci) and Art Crumb (Nathan Lane) push and cajole their candidates to win at all costs.

Costner is believable as a permanently down-on-his luck schmuck who could certainly do better for himself and his daughter. Kate is tempted to sell her ideals to get the plum story and be the next Paula Zahn. At the rational center is Molly, tormented by the reams of mail from those who hope for a thoughtful decision from her thoughtless father. She would like to have him make a good decision, but the burden of keeping him on track is too great. An excellent performance by Carroll, and I'm sure we'll see great things from her.

The Blu-ray edition of Swing Vote wows with some stunning New Mexican vistas in 1080p high-definition. Extras include a making of featurette, deleted scenes with commentary audio commentary and a music video from Modern West (Costner's band).
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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