A ‘Swing’ and a miss

As I did in my previous post, something strick me as odd when I viewed a picture of Kevin Costner. Like something I had seen before, much like the new “Mummy” poster. Have a look:

Handsome man, of course. But does he remind you of anyone else, post-mullet years? How about “Office Space” punchline Michael Bolton:

Anyone? anyone?

Oh well, on with the review:

You gotta hand it to Kevin Costner.

The one-time pretty boy of the silver screen sure isn’t afraid to let it all hang out in his most recent screen roles, sporting mid-life muffin tops around the midriff, allowing his thinning mane to sprout from his noggin like some nest of a crazed blue jay, and wearing each wrinkle on his face with pride.

In “Swing Vote” his latest role is that of Bud, a slovenly mess of a man who eschews politics and world issues for a hearty game of foozball and the foamy beverage that shares his name.

He’s like “comedian” Larry the Cable Guy with half an IQ point. And without the overtly hostile racism and homophobia.

It seems the fate of the free world rests in his beer-soaked mitts, as a technical glitch allowed a razor’s-edge election to be determined by a single ballot.

Is that a chad hanging, or is he just happy to see us?

Setting off a media maelstrom, Bud is besieged by reporters, camera crews, paparazzi and even the candidates themselves are soon courting the man for that all-important vote.

Both incumbent Republican president (played bu Kelsey Grammer) and Democratic contender (played, ironically, by staunch Republican Dennis Hopper) are tossing aside every electoral promise they’ve made, and changing their party’s entire structure in order to suck up to Bud.

The Republicans are now the environmental party and the Democrats are in the pro-life camp in order to appeal to Bud’s supposed views (even if he really doesn’t have a firm stance on anything).

This is where “Swing Vote” makes its most fatal error in a film filled with lesser ones along the way. It attempts to emphasize the civic duty of voting, but negates that by giving us candidates willing to whore out their entire campaign, their entire belief system in order to win.

Sure, each candidate’s PR man (Stanley Tucci is Grammer’s Rovian henchman and Nathan Lane is Hopper’s craven servant) are pulling the strings, but that just makes the candidates even more pathetic. Do we really care who wins when either politician is so quick to pander in order to get seated. It’s this characterization that leads to voter apathy in the first place.

The cameos from political pundits in “Swing Vote” will likely mean nothing to those who fall into Bud’s base (“Golly! I think that there’s Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post!” “Well I’ll be! Git a load of Tucker Carlson without his little bow tie, Vern!”). And the supporting actors (Grammer, Hopper, Tucci, Lane) are too thinly scripted to provide any real interest.

This leaves the majority on Costner and his on-screen daughter, newcomer Madeline Carroll. Carroll comes across as the only-in-the-movies pre-teen, with a Juno-sized intellect, and demonstrating more responsibility than any of her adult co-stars, despite being surrounded by poverty, alcoholism and drug addiction. It’s a fine effort, but she really won’t be stealing the crown from Little Miss Sunshine any time soon.

Costner tries to increase the voltage with his megawatt smile, but his buffoonery and slapstick are hard to fully laugh at when you consider just what a selfish, irresponsible oxygen-waster his character truly is. He does not deserve a daughter like his, he does not deserve the fawning media, and he certainly does not deserve his own movie.

~ by usesoapfilm on August 5, 2008.

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