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Look out for more coverage of
Swing Vote in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Swing Vote

THE STARS:
Kevin Costner • Madeline Carroll, • Kelsey Grammer • Dennis Hopper
DIRECTOR: Joshua Michael Stern

Kevin Costner & Madeline Carroll THE CONCEPT:
Apathetic loser Bud Johnson (Costner) is coasting through life, the one bright spot being his over-achieving 12-year-old daughter Molly (Carroll), who accidentally sets off a chain of events which culminates in the Presidential election coming down to one vote … her dad’s. Soon both presidential candidates, President Andrew Boone (Grammer) and Donald Greeleaf (Hopper), are vying for his vote.

U.S. RELEASE: August 1 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

JOSHUA MICHAEL STERN on the movie opening a few months before the election:
Nathan Lane, director Joshua Michael Stern and Dennis Hopper“I think that we knew it would be relevant when we wrote the movie a couple of years ago, but I don’t think we could have predicted how relevant it was to what the country is feeling [now]. I think we were feeling a little disengaged from the system, a little apathetic, which you know is always very dangerous in every culture, and now when you see people filling stadiums and they’re engaged, I guess we realize now how the culture was quietly feeling what we were feeling two years ago.”

JASON RICHAMAN (Co-screenwriter):
“There’s a fine line between putting issues in a movie and not soap-boxing. You want to be entertaining, and we never set out to preach. We took a very simple thing that we hear when we grow up in schools, which is every vote counts, and we played with that.”

KEVIN COSTNER:
Kevin Costner“A lot of us feel that our vote doesn’t count, and I can’t take myself out of that club. When you do the math you think, ‘I don’t matter.’ But that’s when we’re thinking selfishly. When you start to think of yourself as the part of the fabric of America, that’s when you realize your vote does matter. Our democracy depends on it. The lives [that have been] lost in fighting for it, depends on it, and when America moves together we do matter.”

STERN on casting Madeline Carroll as Molly:
Madeline Carroll“We did an open call for Molly, and I kept calling this one unknown girl back time after time. Madeline was amazing, but she had never done anything, so it was such a risk to use her, because she was the heart of the movie - if the little girl didn’t work, the movie wouldn’t work. I really think she’s absolutely amazing in it.”

MADELINE CARROLL:
“Molly is trying to get her dad, Bud, to vote. That’s all she wants. She’s trying to get him to pay attention to the world – to get involved – and he just doesn’t care. Whenever I see a movie, it doesn’t matter what it is, I try to imagine somebody else doing the character, and when I try to imagine somebody else playing Bud I can’t do it, Kevin did it so well.”

KELSEY GRAMMER:
Stanley Tucci & Kelsey Grammer“I thought this was a terrific script, I thought it was well intentioned as well. I’m not one that’s drawn to do political movies as a rule, but I thought this one was responsible, and in the end it did something that I believe in, which is taking the responsibility to vote and do it responsibly and seriously.”

DENNIS HOPPER:
“I just really enjoyed the script. I’m really proud to be in this movie, and it’s great to work with Kevin again. It’s been quite awhile since [Waterworld in 1995].”

PAULA PATTON (News journalist Kate Madison):
“When I got to New Mexico I was lucky enough to shadow around a young journalist there who works for Albuquerque News, so I went to the news station to see how that was done, and we went out into the field – it was very helpful.”

GEORGE LOPEZ (John Sweeney):
“I’ve been bitten by the meanness of this business, so for me as Program Manager [in the movie], I just took the scars that are on my soul and the rejection of the years of auditions and comedy clubs, and channeled that into a rage against Paula’s character, Kate.”

COSTNER:
“The whole movie was a good collaboration. I thought the razor edge that they were able to ride, not demonizing either party in order to make their point, they were able to take hot button issues like immigration, gay rights and abortion, things where you can actually lose your friendship over a dinner table sometimes, and have [the audience] laugh. It doesn’t change your stance, but you understood the nature of a political mind that to gain one vote might be willing to flip-flop themselves.”

GRAMMER on playing the President:
“It was the best costume I’ve ever worn. That plane [Air Force One] was fantastic, although it was just some crappy old freight plane that they dressed up, but I just pretended in my head and it all worked. I think when you get to walk around inside the skin of a character it’s a lot of fun.”

COSTNER:
“I thought perhaps we’d be dealing with voter fatigue by now, and maybe people would just go, ‘Enough already, I want to see another superhero.’ But I can’t see it as a negative now, I think that maybe it could help us. This movie I think can be relevant five years from now just because of its entertainment value, it’s a comedy, but more importantly it’s got an emotional bottom that I think is nice to revisit.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Swing Vote site
Images above © Touchstone Pictures
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #699, August 2008 cover

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