Sunday, August 10, 2008

Movie Review: Swing Vote

Whoring the Elections

“Swing Vote,” Directed by Joshua Michael Stern; starring Kevin Costner and Madeline Carroll

When we first saw the trailer, my movie buddy whispered, “It will trivialize the elections,” but the hot weather and Kevin Costner finally enticed us into a theater to see it anyway. The first scene of this Disney flick tells the entire story: a degenerate loser will be restored to mankind by the love of his dimpled darling daughter. Nothing wrong with that weary story and this movie tells it as well as most.

The problem isn’t the main character, trashy Bud Johnson of Nowhere, New Mexico, or the far fetched plot giving him the power to decide a U.S. presidential election. The problem is that the movie trashes the entire idea of voting in a democracy. After bumfuzzled Bud is bestowed unlimited power, everybody in American politics turns whore. Democrats and Republicans switch sides on anything and everything, according to their interpretations of Bud’s whims. Even before that, the presidential candidates were more interested in their toothpaste smiles than they were on any issue.

Even Bud’s supposed love interest manipulates his daughter to further her career. The inexplicably undefeated daughter, as the audience knew since the first scene, is the only uncorrupt American depicted.

Of course, Disney provides a suitably melodramatic ending with plenty of firecrackers, flags, violins and hopes for the future. But the damage had already been done by the entire movie that urges “sophisticated” moviegoers to retreat into a shell of cynicism rather than making an honest effort to understand politics in America.

--Jim Lane in Dallas.

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