Four years ago on the evening of Election Day, my husband and I watched the movie Dave rather than be subjected to the interminable banter of newscasters plying us with the latest election results. I don’t care for that kind of nail biting, anxiety provoking TV as the ballots are counted, so suggested we see a good political movie. If you’ve never seen Dave, you really must. It’s a heart-warming comedy starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver where a look alike to the President fills in as the man in the oval office when illness besets the real President.
But this year on election night I selected Swing Vote, a PG-13 2008 comedy starring Kevin Costner. I again didn’t want to subject myself to the above nail biting, anxiety producing network coverage of the election and we had a great time watching Kevin as Bud Johnson, a man who has the unenviable task of casting the sole vote that will decide the next President of the United States.
The film was shot on location in New Mexico (Belen, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe), so of course I relished picking out landmarks. But I also loved the story. Bud is a single parent of a precocious 5th grader named Molly, who embraces her education and is enthusiastic about everyone’s civic duty to cast his or her vote for President. Bud is, shall we say, not the brightest star in the sky, and through a chain of unusual events, has both the Republican incumbent and the Democratic candidate courting him for his vote.
What ensues is sheer comedy, with not a little commentary on the current flawed political campaign and lobbying process in America. The other significant theme of this film is the network news, individual reporters and producers seeing the coverage of Bud and his choice as a ticket to big time network stardom. Through this unique situation of one man casting the deciding vote, each person has to think about their own personal values, what is important and how much they’re willing to sacrifice for success.
The film also stars Kelsey Grammer as the President, and Dennis Hopper as the Democratic candidate, with supporting roles by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane as their campaign advisors. Also appearing are George Lopez, and Judge Reinhold, someone I hadn’t seen in a movie in a long time, but that I’ve heard lives up near Santa Fe somewhere.
I highly recommend Swing Vote and also encourage you to make your own Election night tradition in four years with a political film to pass the time until the results are in. The two I’ve mentioned are comedies, uplifting with a definite message or moral to the story, but there are many other political themed movies that you could pick. I wanted something more light-hearted, but another I saw this year was The Ides of March, which was a drama and much more serious.
I’d love comments about your favorite political movies and why you enjoy them.