CATEGORIES Comedy, Drama, Casting, New Releases, Celebrities and Controversy, Politics, Movie News, New Releases, CinematicalThe basic scenario behind Swing Vote makes for an easy pitch: An average American (Kevin Costner) winds up in the position of casting the deciding vote in a presidential election. Both candidates (played by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper) fly into town and try to woo him. It's a simple premise clearly aimed at exploring the various quirks of the political process. However, although it is quite a fantastical situation, the filmmakers have put quite an effort into incorporating at least one element from the real world: News anchors. Countless movies have asked Jay Leno and his fellow late night brethren to make cameos on TV joking about this or that bit of plot to add a sense of realism, but Swing Vote brings a slightly different set of rules to the table: The presidential candidates are clearly fictional (and Grammer, the Republican candidate, doesn't have many Bush-like qualities), while the news anchors, for the most part, play themselves. If you ask me, something doesn't quite add up here.
Chris Matthews blares into the camera about the ramifications of the election snafu. Tucker Carlson follows suit. Larry King delivers his trademark monotone. And Arianna Huffington gets a full-blown monologue. How is it that all these people can play themselves in a world with a completely different president, one virtually devoid (as far as we can tell) of modern talking points like the Iraq War and the beleaguered economy? It's almost as if they've been imported from another dimension.
Then again, there's a logic behind writing these familiar faces into the screenplay -- it mirrors the way human interest stories are broken down by larger institutional forces. The public rarely wants to decide for itself, choosing instead to leave the decision-making process to the people it recognizes on the tube. However, the gimmick will sort of break the fourth wall and provide a reminder that Swing Vote is just a movie, rather not a thoughtfully accurate reflection of the world we live in. How do you feel about the presence of authentic news people in a scripted film?