Have you ever heard the old saying about how one vote can make all the difference? I’ve always had to laugh whenever I hear that because I know that, every election, my sister Melissa is going to cancel out my ballot by voting the exact opposite of how I vote. As a result, even though I’ve participated in almost every election since 2004, my vote has hardly ever really mattered.
(Then again, neither has my sister’s….)
But anyway, the idea of one vote making all of the difference is taken to its logical extreme in the 2008 comedy Swing Vote. In Swing Vote, a presidential election comes down to who wins the state of New Mexico. And who wins the state of New Mexico will be determined by just one vote. You see, the popular vote in New Mexico is tied between the two candidates but it turns out that, due to a voting machine error, one man’s vote has not been counted. And now, that man has ten days to recast his vote.
(Why does he have ten days? Mostly because there would not be a movie if they just said, “Please cast your vote again…now!”)
Of course, the problem is that the guy never cast a vote in the first place. Instead, his vote was cast by his daughter (Madeline Carroll), who basically committed an act of vote fraud and violated federal law. But it’s cute because she’s super precocious and she just wants her Dad to stop being such a fuck-up.
Oh, did I mention that?
That’s right — the fate of America is in the hands of a complete and total fuck-up. His name is Bud and he’s played by Kevin Costner. He’s a rather stupid guy who has never been responsible a day in his life. He’s also a former felon, which really should have made him ineligible to vote in the first place. And, on top of that, he’s the type of alcoholic who promises his little girl that he’ll meet her at a scheduled place and time and then proceeds to get drunk inside.
OH MY GOD, WHAT A GREAT GUY!
But, we’re supposed to like Bud because he’s played by Kevin Costner and I really don’t get that logic. I always find it odd that, every year, we hear about how Kevin Costner is going to be in a few dozen films and how they’re all going to be hits and he’s suddenly going to be a big star again. I’m never quite sure why people are excited about this prospect. Whenever I see Costner on-screen (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen that often), I’m always struck by the fact that, regardless of the role, he really does come across as being an asshole. That really does seem to be his screen presence. That’s certainly the case in Swing Vote.
And maybe that’s the point of the film. Be sure to vote so that the fate of America doesn’t end up in the hands of Kevin Costner.
That said, I will say that Swing Vote deserves some credit for casting Kelsey Grammer as the President and Dennis Hopper as his opponent. Personally, I probably would have voted to reelect Kesley but I think Dennis would have done a good job as well.
(By the way, if ever do find yourself watching Swing Vote, imagine how much funnier the film would have been if it ended with Costner casting his vote and then announcing, “I voted third party!”)