½*/**** Image A Sound A Extras D
starring Kevin Costner, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Madeline Carroll
screenplay by Jason Richman & Joshua Michael Stern
directed by Joshua Michael Stern
by Walter Chaw Another simple-minded liberal screed that does more harm to the liberal cause than the whole of Fox News could possibly dream, this salvo from the left positions itself as a wagging finger to the non-voters of the United States--so long as those non-voters are earnest (literally: the hero of the piece is named Ernest) and have precocious, politically-savvy preteen daughters. Yes, it's the Homer and Lisa Simpson dyad reproduced with Kevin Costner and Abigail Breslin 2.0 Madeline Carroll. This year's Man of the Year, Swing Vote is the kind of lefty pinko wet blanket that can't take a stand without providing narration for it, until finally it reveals itself as a public-service announcement for the sanctity of casting a vote that's properly counted. Hooray, Constitution! This doesn't preclude a few potshots at the press, natch--take that, stupid First Amendment! Every scene of the film is an exclamation point delivered from atop a worst-of-Capra soapbox; those bemoaning that they don't make 'em like they used to, take a big, heaving bite of Swing Vote, compared to which the Pollyannaism of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington reads like P.J. O'Rourke snark. Maybe it's better to see the picture as a scary-prescient prediction of what would happen if someone like Ernest were not only tasked with choosing the next President of the United States, but moreover tabbed as the vice-presidential nominee of a major candidate. Think of Swing Vote as the mother-loving Sarah Palin story and suddenly the movie's every bit the frightening satirical comedy it wasn't upon initial release.