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Swing Vote

Comedy about bungled voting starts funny, ends maudlin

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In a bizarre turn of events, the presidential contest comes down to the vote of one man. Of course, it's the vote of an utterly disinterested, rural doofus (played amiably if unconvincingly by Kevin Costner), which sets up the film's best bits: the craven pandering of the two presidential contenders -- Republican incumbent Kelsey Grammer and progressive Dem Dennis Hopper -- to the capricious interests of one guy. Writer-director Joshua Michael Stern's loose-limbed comedy has a few well-aimed barbs at our increasingly silly, minutiae-driven campaigns, obsessed with narrow-casting and fueled by 24/7 media. (The hastily produced TV ads the candidates create are almost worth the price of admission.) But Stern pulls his punches in the last reel, trading mild satire for some family melodrama and a buzz-killing speech about What America Means to Me. Dude, we don't go to the movies to hear why democracy isn't working for the common man. We can get that at home; give us laughs and more kookiness like that bizarre Richard Petty cameo. (AH)

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