by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Kevin Costner as BUD JOHNSON
Madeline Carroll as MOLLY JOHNSON
Paula Patton as KATE MADISON
Kelsey Grammer as PRESIDENT BOONE
Dennis Hopper as DONALD GREENLEAF
Nathan Lane as ART CRUMB
Stanley Tucci as MARTIN FOX
George Lopez as JOHN SWEENY
Directed by: Joshua Michael Stern
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Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) has never been much into politics. His daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) is, and she registers him to vote in the upcoming presidential election. When Molly sneaks out and votes for Bud, a glitch in the voting machine causes his vote to not be recorded. The election of 2000 comes back to haunt the country as the presidency lies on Bud’s vote. Suddenly, both candidates and the news media is crawling over Bud’s life, trying to see who he’s going to choose to be the next President of the United States.
WHAT I LIKED
Overall, this film has some fine actors in it, and that serves the story very well. It feels like a very typical Touchstone release that aims for the grown-up audience and handles a serious issue with some doses of good humor. Madeline Carroll is particularly impressive as a young, up-and-coming actor. Her biggest cross to bear is the fact that she is almost too strikingly similar to Abigail Breslin.
Ultimately, the movie’s heart is in the right place, and considering it was released before the 2008 presidential election, it tries to not choose any side for fear of alienating its audience.
The best part of the film comes in the lighter moments, especially when both candidates abandon their principles and start running wild campaign ads for Bud’s benefit. The Democrat anti-abortion ad is priceless.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s a danger in trying to not choose a side in a political movie, and that is you’ll end up looking wishy washy. That happens in this movie about two-thirds of the way through when the filmmakers realize that they could possibly alienate half of their audience. The problem is that they start to take themselves too seriously and the film gets unbearably preachy and stuffy by the end.
Even in the deleted scenes and the commentaries, writer/director Joshua Michael Stern tells us how the election of 2000 inspired him, but it still comes across that this guy is just one giant liberal who has to hold his nose while he makes the Republican look decent in the film.
Costner pulls off the character of Bud, but the best parts of the film happen when he’s just a redneck dude instead of the respectable citizen that he turns into.
There’s a decent set of bonus features on the DVD, including a feature commentary with writer/director Joshua Michael Stern and co-writer Jason Richman. There’s also several deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary as well as the “Inside the Campaign: The Politics of Production” behind-the-scenes featurette.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Swing voters and anyone who couldn’t decide on McCain or Obama until they stepped into a voting booth on November 4th.