Kevin Costner Reduced to Stealing Mediocrity From the DeadA disturbing revelation has come to light today about Swing Vote, Kevin Costner's election-year opus about the alcoholic schlub on whose shoulders the entirety of presidential politics rests via some fluke of electoral nature. It's about as disappointing as its midsummer dumping implies, writes NY Post critic Lou Lumenick, but that hardly seems as unexpected as his observation that the whole film rips off is an "uncredited remake" of a 1939 John Barrymore film called The Great Man Votes:
Both movies are about drunken single parents (Costner, Barrymore) who through a quirk are in the position to decide an election with their single vote. Both become celebrities and are courted by politicians to the point of bribery; and both finally see the light thanks to their children. ...
There are differences, too — running time, for starters (Swing Vote's 127 minutes to Great Man's 72 minutes) and what Lumenick characterizes as the "egregious product placement [of Costner being] named 'Sexiest Man Alive' by People Magazine." (We're sure Life Magazine had an analogue worth offering to RKO 70 years ago.) But the critic later uncovers arguably the most devastating — if throughly wonky — smoking gun with Costner's fingerprints all over it:
But I believe there may be very oblique nod in the movie itself that only an extremely hard-core movie buff like myself would pick up. It occurs in a scene where the Democratic president candidate, uncomfortably played by Dennis Hopper, is pretending to be knowledgable about trout fishing in a conversation with Costner's character, a fishing buff whose vote he is trying to reel in. Hopper's campaign manager, played by Nathan Lane, at one point slips Hopper some handwritten notes that he secretly reads from. In real-life Barrymore was a drunk who, by the time he made The Great Man Votes — released two years before his death — was in such bad shape he couldn't memorize lines (but could still act the pants off Costner). Garson Kanin, who directed Great Man, wrote in his memoirs that Barrymore read his lines from small blackboards that were strategically placed around the set.
Le scandal! All right, fine — If Drew Barrymore isn't defending the family honor at a press conference by tomorrow afternoon, then we probably can't summon enough energy to care either.