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"SWING VOTE"
(2008) (Kevin Costner, Madeline Carroll) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None *None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild None Moderate Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A down on his luck slacker enjoys finding himself in the spotlight when it's determined his vote will decide the outcome of the deadlocked U.S. Presidential election.
PLOT:
It's November and that means it's time to elect the next President of the United States. And with incumbent Republican Andrew Boone (KELSEY GRAMMER) facing a close contest waged by his Democratic challenger, Donald Greenleaf (DENNIS HOPPER), every vote is crucial. That is, except to Texico, New Mexico resident "Bud" Johnson (KEVIN COSTNER). Divorced and beaten down by life, he works at the local egg packaging factory along with his lifelong friends Walter (JUDGE REINHOLD) and Lewis (CHARLES ESTEN), but never shows up on time and doesn't seem to care about anything beyond drinking.

This bothers his young and precocious daughter, Molly (MADELINE CARROLL), who has a good head on her shoulders. She acts as the parent in their trailer household, always being the one to have to get him up in the morning from his drunken stupor. Since it's election day, she really wants him to do his civic duty and vote, but when he loses his job, he ends up drinking in the local bar rather than meeting her at their polling place.

After waiting hours for him to show up, she sneaks in, forges his signature, and tries to cast his votes, but is interrupted, thus leaving his vote incomplete. That turns out to be significant as the voting results in their county end up in a tie, meaning his decision will determine which way the electoral votes will go and thus the overall Presidential election as well.

When federal officials arrive to inform Bud that he will have to cast his vote again in ten days, local TV reporter Kate Madison (PAULA PATTON) manages to get the scoop on him being the swing voter. As a result, the press -- not just from Kate's TV station where her boss, John Sweeney (GEORGE LOPEZ), encourages her to forgo her conscience and do whatever it takes to find out how he intends to vote -- quickly arrive in Texico and set up camp around Bud and Molly's trailer.

And they're not alone, as both Presidential candidates -- as well as their campaign managers, Martin Fox (STANLEY TUCCI) with the President and Art Crumb (NATHAN LANE) working for Greenleaf -- also arrive, hoping to sway Bud's decision their way. As the days wear on, Molly becomes increasingly upset about how things are playing out, all while her dad enjoys all of the attention while in the national spotlight.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or are interested in politics, it seems highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEVIN COSTNER plays a divorced father who's been beaten down by life and doesn't particularly have much interest in politics. That changes when Molly's attempt to vote for him is interrupted, thus leaving him as the lone swing vote that will determine the next President of the United States. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, he enjoys all of the sudden attention paid to him by the press and both candidates, but that doesn't really open his eyes (toward the political process or raising his daughter the way he should) until late in the film. He drinks a lot and uses profanity.
  • MADELINE CARROLL plays his precocious daughter who's really the adult figure in their family. She wants him to shape up and is discouraged when he doesn't, so she tries to cast his vote, but is interrupted while doing so, thus leading to the national spotlight focusing on them. Smart beyond her years, she becomes increasingly disillusioned by both the political process and the media attention focused on them.
  • PAULA PATTON plays the local TV reporter who's the first to scoop Bud's identity as the mystery swing vote. Initially idealistic, she finds her values undermined by her desire to climb the success ladder in her field.
  • KELSEY GRAMMER plays the Republican incumbent who ends up reversing his stances on various issues all in hopes of getting Bud's vote. He drinks a few times with Bud.
  • DENNIS HOPPER plays his Democratic challenger who similarly starts flip-flopping, but seems more troubled doing so than his rival.
  • NATHAN LANE plays Greenleaf's campaign manager who's never won a big election and thus does anything he can to convince Bud to vote for his boss. He uses some profanity and briefly drinks.
  • STANLEY TUCCI plays his counterpart on the other side, a wily strategist who's never lost.
  • GEORGE LOPEZ plays Kate's boss who's excited about his station getting the scoop on Bud and encourages her to forgo her ideals and do what she can to find out how Bud is going to vote. He uses some profanity.
  • JUDGE REINHOLD and CHARLES ESTEN play Bud's lifelong friends and coworkers who initially enjoy but then end up not liking the attention Bud has brought upon their town. They drink and use some profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Varying amounts of cleavage are seen, while various characters drink, including the protagonist who does a great deal and is seen intoxicated.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and two underage kids separately drive vehicles. Tense family material is present, as are various related thematic issues, as well as those pertaining to politics and hot-button issues such as gay marriage, abortion, immigration and such, although all of that is played for comedy.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that in several scenes from camera flashes.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are occasional moments of camera movement throughout the film, sometimes fairly bouncy.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • When Bud complains about the food Molly makes, she tells him that if he wants to eat better, he needs to drink less beer.
  • Bud's boss shows footage of him covertly drinking beer at work and then accidentally knocking over stacks of egg cartons, breaking the eggs.
  • Bud drinks shots of liquor in a bar where others also drink. When he realizes he forgot to meet Molly at their polling place, he drunkenly stumbles to his truck (exacerbated by hitting his head on a hanging sign), can't get the keys in the ignition, and then passes out in the truck. Later, Molly drives him home in that truck.
  • During a montage, we see miscellaneous drinking.
  • One of Molly's classmates says his dad doesn't leave the house much since his mom left. He adds that he sometimes waits until is dad is drunk to borrow the truck, and that sometimes his dad passes out from drinking.
  • Miscellaneous people drink in a bar.
  • President Boone holds a drink.
  • Bud has a beer.
  • We see a sign that reads that marijuana is medicine.
  • Bud has a beer in another scene.
  • Trying to get on Bud's good side, President Boone tells him he's the kind of guy you could have a beer with. He then asks Bud if he wants one, he does, and we then see them with beer in front of them (although only Bud drinks his).
  • People have champagne, wine and beer (including Walter) at a party for Bud who is offered and has beer. He then hands that to Art (to perform on stage) and Art then drinks some of that.
  • Art and Greenleaf have wine.
  • Bud has a beer.
  • Bud has a beer in another scene.
  • Walter and Lewis drink in a bar as do others.
  • Bud has a beer again.
  • President Boone and Bud have margaritas by them, but Bud ends up pouring his onto the ground.
  • Needing to get to her mom's place, Molly asks a classmate if he thinks his dad is passed out (so that they can take his truck).
  • Bud worries when Molly ends up missing, but then realizes she's gone to see her mom. When Molly arrives there, her mom pretends she's not her, and then tells Molly she has no time for her and isn't right. Bud eventually arrives and chastises her for that, adding that he thought she had cleaned up (a possible drug reference, we do see her reach for some prescription pills).
  • Bud opens a beer, but then thinks about it and puts it aside without having any.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • When asked where Bud is, Walter says he "went to take a leak" a half hour ago.
  • We see a little bit of blood as Bud puts a worm on a fishing hook.
  • Interviewed about Bud and his reaction to the sudden attention, Walter jokes that Bud is probably "crapping his pants."
  • About being nervous before hosting a debate, Bud states, "I'm gonna puke" (but he doesn't).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Bud isn't much of a dad to Molly, often ending up intoxicated and not doing much to rear her. He even says that her teacher is "full of sh*t" for talking about voting as a civic duty, etc.
  • Martin makes some racist remarks about how to get older Jewish people to vote, and then does the same about getting the "God-fearing bastards" off the fence by running gay rights ads (played for laughs).
  • We hear that Bud is habitually late at work and has already used 31 sick days. His boss then shows footage of him covertly drinking beer at work and then accidentally knocking over stacks of egg cartons, breaking the eggs.
  • After losing his job, Bud forgets to meet Molly at their polling place and instead goes drinking at the local bar, thus leaving her waiting for hours. She's both mad at and disappointed with him. She later tells him she wants to live with her mom, with Bud saying he does too.
  • Mad that Bud didn't show up to vote, Molly sneaks into the polling place when no other voters are there and forges her dad's name on the registry. She then tries to vote, but an accidental loss of power interrupts her and she scurries out. When Bud learns of this, he goes along with the lie by saying that it was him who tried to vote earlier.
  • Thinking some federal election officials are from child services arriving to take Molly away, she puts on a cross and hands her dad a Bible to make them appear religious (played for laughs).
  • Bud takes Molly fishing, thus making her truant from school.
  • When Bud says he's just going to come clean about what happened, Molly reminds him that he swore to a federal official that he did try to vote, and that voter fraud is a felony. She then says he's down to just one more felony and then they take her away from him (played for comedy).
  • Some viewers may be offended by one or more of the following: A sight of Planned Parenthood signs, Bud being handed the supposed nuclear launch code bag in Air Force One, an anti-immigration commercial featuring Mexicans racing behind Greenleaf to get into the country, and humor stemming from Bud being asked about gay marriage (he ends up using the term "queens" when making a whatever a King does in his castle is okay analogy, that leads to President Boone doing a gay rights commercial with some stereotypical gay & lesbian behavior -- but nothing sexual) and whether he's pro-choice or pro-life. The latter leads to a campaign commercial where Greenleaf has switched positions and has gone pro-life, with kids on a playground disappearing in puffs of smoke behind him to emphasize the point of what would have happened to them had they been aborted (played for comedy).
  • Both President Boone and Greenleaf change their stances on hot button issues and otherwise try to impress and/or scare Bud into voting for them.
  • Art states that they got some of Bud's former band-mates released from prison so that they could perform on stage with him.
  • Kate's boss encourages her to throw out her ideals in favor of doing anything to get the scoop on Bud's voting preference, all to further her career in the TV business. She's initially reluctant, and then starts to do just that, including trying to secretly videotape Molly, but she eventually sees the error of her ways.
  • Various people comment on and/or make fun of Bud's intelligence.
  • Molly is upset/mad when her dad forgets it's her take your dad to school day. Once at school and giving her speech, she ends up crying during that.
  • Bud worries when Molly ends up missing, but then realizes she's gone to see her mom. When Molly arrives there, her mom pretends she's not her, and then tells Molly she has no time for her and isn't right. Bud eventually arrives and chastises her for that, adding that he thought she had cleaned up (a possible drug reference, we do see her reach for some prescription pills).
  • Molly's underage classmate takes his dad's truck without permission and drives Molly to see her mom.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We briefly see Bud and Greenleaf doing some skeet shooting.
  • Bud briefly plays with what appears to be a video game machine gun.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Oh f*ck, thank you, Jesus," "Is full of sh*t," "Bullsh*t," "Sh*t if I know," "No sh*t," "Well, sh*t," "Sh*t-hole," "Holy sh*t," "No sh*t?" "Like missiles and sh*t?" "Ah sh*t," "You're giving me sh*t about it," "G*ddamn, it's cold," "Dummy," "Where are you learning this crap?" "Voting doesn't count for a G*ddman thing," "Screw this up and I'm leaving you," "God-fearing bastards," "Son of a gun," "What's the big whoop?" "Well hell, Carl," "Hell's bells," "Gosh darn it," "Where the hell is Texico?" "Schmuck," "Quit being a smart-ass," "Screw" (nonsexual), "Don't screw this up," "Holy crap," "Crapping his pants," "What the hell /is this/do you know?" "Political nut-job," "Hell yeah," "This is really getting weird," "Hell of a party," "That sucks," "Those bastards stole our platform," "Changing the channel on your ass," "Go out there and rip the Statue of Liberty a new one," "It doesn't suck," "Little turd," "God darn it," "It's damn good," "I don't give a rat's ass about it," "Queens" (homosexuals), "You're ruining America," "Sorry ass," "A dumb ass," "For crying out loud," "Make an ass out of me" and "I'm gonna puke."
  • Lewis has a tattoo on his arm, and we see some other people with tattoos.
  • Molly, who's too young to do so, drives a passed out Bud back home in their truck.
  • Molly's underage classmate takes his dad's truck without permission and drives Molly to see her mom.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None that we heard, but some songs had lyrics that we couldn't fully hear and/or understand, thus presenting the possibility of them potentially containing something objectionable.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 20 "s" words, 15 hells, 7 damns, 6 asses, 4 craps, 1 S.O.B., 5 uses of "God," 4 of "G-damn," 3 of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "Christ," "God darn it," "Jesus Christ," "My God," "Oh God" and "Oh my God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Art must answer questions about Greenleaf's past attendance at a nudist colony, but we don't see any related visuals.
  • During a montage, we see some shirtless guys and a woman in a one-piece bathing suit (nothing revealing) at a pool.
  • We briefly see Bud in his underwear and a t-shirt when he gets out of bed.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • We see some cheerleaders in tight shorts at a party.
  • The camera goes down to a woman's cleavage (representing Bud's point of view as he looks at the woman with Walter).
  • Kate shows a little cleavage in several outfits.
  • About the women Bud dates, Molly refers to them as those who dance (possibly meaning they're strippers).
  • A real-life political pundit shows a lot of cleavage.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Bud isn't much of a dad to Molly, often ending up intoxicated and not doing much to rear her.
  • Molly half-jokingly tells Bud that if he "screws up" casting his vote, she's leaving him.
  • After losing his job, Bud forgets to meet Molly at their polling place and instead goes drinking at the local bar, thus leaving her waiting for hours. She's both mad at and disappointed with him. She later tells him she wants to live with her mom, with Bud saying he does too.
  • Bud and Molly talk about her mom, with Bud saying that his ex-wife simply can't be there for her.
  • One of Molly's classmates says his dad doesn't leave the house much since his mom left. He adds that he sometimes waits until is dad is drunk to borrow the truck, and that sometimes his dad passes out from drinking.
  • When Bud says he's just going to come clean about what happened, Molly reminds him that he swore to a federal official that he did try to vote, and that voter fraud is a felony. She then says he's down to just one more felony and then they take her away from him (played for comedy).
  • Greenleaf's wife slaps him for his opportunistic change in policies just to try to get Bud's vote.
  • Molly is upset/mad when her dad forgets it's her take your dad to school day. Once at school and giving her speech, she ends up crying during that.
  • Bud worries when Molly ends up missing, but then realizes she's gone to see her mom. When Molly arrives there, her mom pretends she's not her, and then tells Molly she has no time for her and isn't right. Bud eventually arrives and chastises her for that, adding that he thought she had cleaned up (a possible drug reference, we do see her reach for some prescription pills).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Bud isn't much of a dad to Molly, often ending up intoxicated and not doing much to rear her.
  • Bud's belief that voting is useless as it's only an illusion that makes everyday people think they have some word in what occurs.
  • The notion of in-sourcing, where rather than jobs being sent to other countries, immigrants are brought to the U.S. to replace American workers.
  • Presidential campaigns and the way the process works and how candidates and their teams try to manipulate the system and voters alike.
  • The saying that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
  • Political hot-button issues such as gay marriage, immigration, abortion and more that are briefly brought up in the film.
  • Both President Boone and Greenleaf change their stances on hot button issues and otherwise try to impress and/or scare Bud into voting for them.
  • Kate's boss encourages her to throw out her ideals in favor of doing anything to get the scoop on Bud's voting preference, all to further her career in the TV business. She's initially reluctant, and then starts to do just that, including trying to secretly videotape Molly, but she eventually sees the error of her ways.
  • Molly tells her dad that he's ruining America.
  • The press and how they descend upon and feed off any story they think will maintain their ratings.
  • Martin's comment that they're just doing what they always do in trying to sway voters.
  • Bud reads a letter from a worried voter asking why he and his family are having a hard time making ends meet when America is the richest country in the world.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Bud's boss shows footage of him covertly drinking beer at work and then accidentally knocking over stacks of egg cartons, breaking the eggs.
  • While intoxicated, Bud accidentally bangs his head on a hanging sign.
  • In a pro-life political TV ad, Greenleaf is seen in front of kids playing on a playground, and when he talks about what would have happened had they been aborted, they start disappearing in puffs of smoke (played for laughs and not displayed realistically and certainly not graphically).
  • Greenleaf's wife slaps him for his opportunistic change in policies just to try to get Bud's vote.



  • Reviewed July 28, 2008 / Posted August 1, 2008

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