Review Covers DVD & Blu-Ray Version
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
An average cover and somewhat fun menu make up the package for Swing Vote. This isn’t an artsy fartsy movie, so you are not going to get any kind of independent thinkers putting the art on the front of the box, that’s for sure. They are showcasing the stars of the movie and the proud red, white, and blue. Fair enough. It doesn’t win any aesthetic awards from me, but then again, most DVD’s don’t
- Inside The Campaign The Politics Of production – A very short and uninspired little extra that highlights how and why the movie was made. Interviews with cast and crew are here, along with some chummy stories of working together, you get the picture.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes With Optional Directors Commentary – Deleted scenes can add to a movie if they are outside what we have already seen. In two of these deleted bits we see the candidates having their Revelation moments which would have been nice to see in the film, but the Hollywood genetics that have invaded the director’s brain took over and tried to trim it down to fit an audience’s stupid ADD issues.
- Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Joshua Michael Stern & Writer Jason Richman – I’m not a huge fan of these guys talking. They have too much of the trendy vibe for me. I think they do a solid job of writing a descent story and tell it pretty well, but they are too much into the institution of making movies.
The Movie: 6/10
I don’t like the word. I don’t use the word. It annoys me when people use this word to describe movies. So, I’m using this word to describe this movie. Precious, precious, precious, Swing Vote made that word come to my mind several times. The premise is simple, an “every man’s man” is left with the responsibility of selecting the next president of the United States. It’s a bizarre situation, thus it is a movie and not real life, that you have to accept and move on in order to enjoy the movie even a little bit.
It sounds like I”m about to be harsh on this little flick, but the truth is, it’s ok. That’s it. I can’t stretch it or exaggerate or elaborate much. The story is sweet and the characters, except the young girl, are all caricatures who are not grounded enough to feel authentic, not even a little bit. Even Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blond got my attention and made that character seem reasonable in the setting she was living in. Swing Vote is populated with Kevin Costner who isn’t harsh enough to be an asshole loser dad who refuses to vote or contribute to society. He’s too flighty and not got the hard edge I felt might have given him more umph when he’s trying to be the hard ass skeptic, cynic, etc.
There is the somewhat over acting reporter who does a whole lot of theatrical and cutesy facial expressions and gestures. Up against Costner, even though I didn’t think his character seemed credible, he did a good job at it. This woman didn’t hold her own most of the time, just being a bit too overly excitable.
The young girl, however, is the saving grace of this whole movie. She’s amazing. She’s incredibly genuine and holds every scene together from start to finish. She has a lot of different things to do, sad, hurt, mad, goofy, silly, and the hardened little girl who is one upping the grown ups by seeing through their bullshit. I really enjoyed her performance and I hope to see more of her. Madeline Carroll is her name, and trust me, if you are so-so on the movie like me, you might just find that she makes it well worth watching.
The supporting cast is full of big names, and you can read the box and other sites to find out who they are. While the movie is going on I guess they stand out, not always in a good way. I was a little bit bored sometimes with the way each scene played out between the grown ups. A president and a candidate trying to win one guy’s vote. It became farcical, as it was meant to be, but then it was pretty indulgent on top of that which made it hard to hang in there. I did like Kelsy Grammer and Dennis Hopper, they just weren’t that memorable for me.
The movie has a good message, which I will not reveal. I mean, you need at least two reasons to watch it, Madeline Carroll, and the important message:) It does make fun of our political system, our public perception of government, the press, and more than I was comfortable with, the working class folks who actually do most of the voting and living to keep things together. I guess those big city writers/directors just don’t get much chance to talk to real people, so they write about them in moviesque condescending precious ways to be funny. I think they might have forgotten that voting is a lot like going to the movies, it’s the “little” people who put bread and butter on your tables boys.
Audio & Video: 8/10
As I said in the podcast, Swing Vote is a strange looking film at times with weird overblown lighting and unnatural looking sets. The Blu-Ray edition of the movie amplifies that look which I assume the director intended. It’s just not my cup of tea. The high definition 2.40:1 presentation is pristine, as it should be for a 2008 movie, with no signs of film dust or grain. The wrinkles in Kevin Costner’s face really show up. (He’s aging quite well though.)
Audio is fine for a comedy. There is not much in the way of bass or surround action, but dialog is perfectly captured. Basically, your center speaker will get a work out as with most of these types of movies. The DVD release of the movie has a standard 5.1 soundtrack and the picture quality is up to par for a modern DVD release. Overall, Swing Vote is a nice little comedy that is a enjoyable watch on a cold winter night, but it wouldn’t be a showcase for your big screen and surround sound.
This isn’t a movie I need to own. I won’t have any desire to watch it again, but I would recommend it to a lot of people I know. The thing is, just rent it folks. It’s not a $30 kind of item that you need in your life. Buy some groceries, a few treats, and rent it for a fun weekend night at home. The extras are so slim as a DVD it’s noteven on the “keeper” list.
Overall Score 6/10