Swing Vote

Rated 3.0

The transparent civics lessons and chummy social satire here are not without applications to the current election year, but most of the film treads cautiously on both sides of the political street. Entertainment values tend to rule the day, even with the media circus of contemporary political campaigns coming in for some of the script’s sharpest knocks. But there is a good deal of entertainment to be had, especially with a sprightly supporting cast backing a rambunctious Kevin Costner in what might also be called Joe Sixpack Goes to the Polls. The production’s implicit attempts to update Frank Capra’s New Deal-era comedies are not without a few moments of populist pungency and a twinge or two of genuine independent spirit, but whatever the touches of contemporary grit, this is still that very old-fashioned kind of movie in which a single, bright 12-year-old (the zestily self-assured Madeline Carroll) adroitly shows the adult world, and her not-so-deadbeat dad (Costner), the error of their ways. The mere casting of Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper as presidential nominees packs a certain satiric wallop, but the film tends to hedge its bets on even its most trenchant points.