Parents' Guide to

Swing Vote

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Lots of booze in mostly winning political comedy.

Movie PG-13 2008 100 minutes
Swing Vote Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

Somewhat Funnt, but Not Very Good...

SWING VOTE is modeled like an old-fashioned Capra comedy along the lines of MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. That's what it's modeled after. Unfortunately, this film lacks the one thing that makes Capra films so endearing: a sympathetic, likeable hero. The hero in this film is Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), a trashy drunk who somehow manages to keep his daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) away from CPS even though she's the one who wakes him up in the morning, makes him breakfast, and drives him home when he's too drunk to function. That's the one main flaw in this otherwise charming movie: the hero is a jerk. The plot of the movie picks up speed when Bud realizes that the entire Presidential election has come down to him. Bummer for the nation. There's no violence or sexual content, however, language is constant and consists of countless "d**n"s, "s**t"s, "hell"s, and one barely audible "f**k". The presidential candidates and their advisors are portrayed as greedy people who seek only to further their own partisan agendas. And, the hero is a trashy drunk. Really the only good role model in the film is Bud's daughter, who is smart, honest, and patriotic. Drinking is to complete excess. There are also several hilarious but off-color segments mocking gay marriage, illegal immigration, and abortion. SWING VOTE is a fine comedy that has some good performances and several hilarious moments. However, it does not live up to its expectation as a smart, funny comedy. The weak link of this film is at its center, and unfortunately, no amount of gags or Kelsey Grammar can change that.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 13+

bad language

I did like the storyline, but the language killed the movie for me. The f-word is in there multiple times and other inappropriate language, although that's the character they're trying to portray. There is also a lot of drinking and irresponsibility, but I can tolerate/accept that more.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (4):

Like many candidates running for office, SWING VOTE has plenty of good intentions but fails to deliver on its significant promise. It relies too easily on stereotypes -- the steely Republicans, the fuzzy Democrats -- to make its points and misses the opportunity to dig deep into the American voter's confused, apathetic psyche. Still, it is a comedy, so perhaps it shouldn't be faulted for failing to do more than skim the surface. ... But, then again, other movies -- Bob Roberts, Dave, Election -- have satirized the political process with a modicum of success, so why can't Swing Vote?

But it does try, and some elements are entertaining. Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane are superb as political operatives; the main conceit -- that the election ends up hinging on Bud's vote -- is wicked fun; and certain scenes are genius, as when both parties end up contorting themselves to win Bud's vote. Paula Patton has an ease about her that serves her well as Kate Madison, a TV journalist with a soul. Costner is decent overall, though the film could have done with less of his hamming, at least in the beginning. But Carroll is the true find. Molly is the heart of the film, and her relationship with Bud is what ultimately makes Swing Vote work. Even the outcome of a hotly contested presidential election doesn't compare to a father finally realizing that he's running the race of his life.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate