Game Change

Game Change is based on the best-selling nonfiction book, and this political docudrama follows the historic 2008 presidential race with a focus on the sometimes contentious relationship between Sarah Palin and the aides to Republican nominee John McCain. Joanne Moore and Woody Harrelson shine as teammates turned adversaries in this behind-the-scenes recreation of the McCain campaign. Desperate for a charismatic and innovative vice presidential candidate, McCain (a totally believable Ed Harris) and his campaign team select the vibrant, confidant Sara Palin (Moore). Regrettably, they are so impressed by her charisma they neglect to fully vet her, and are unaware of her abysmal lack of knowledge about foreign policy (she wonders why North and South Korea are separate countries). It isn’t long before the wheels begin falling off the campaign due to Palin’s near-meltdown in the pressure cooker of the media glare. Even more disturbing are the issues with her massive ego when she recovers from this disastrous start and begins to eclipse McCain in popularity. The film is put together well and progresses in a believable way and one that is supported by documentary evidence. It hits the defining moments of McCain’s campaign. This is not really all about Palin so much as it was about the “Game Change” she impelled. Unfortunately she became the news and McCain started to fade into the background. That much is historically accurate and whether or not she was a nice person, she became the focus of the campaign at some point. One of the most important moments in the campaign and film shows McCain’s disenchantment and disappointment, when the candidate was confronted in the now famous clip by a voter who vehemently believes that Obama “he’s…..he’s an Arab”. Whatever you thought of McCain, he believed in himself and his campaign as being a good thing, and at that moment you see him realize that his campaign was no longer reflecting good things. So, it’s well done and portrays the “Game Change” that marked McCain’s last campaign. This is an outstanding film about one of the most historic and odd presidential campaigns in US politics. It’s about the people running the McCain-Palin campaign, not so much about Palin, much less about McCain. Although the film centers on the McCain/Palin campaign, the film is really about Republican strategist Steve Schmidt (Harrelson) and his desperate attempt to beat the Obama/Biden campaign. He is the Dr. Frankenstein in creating the monster Palin and the real reason why McCain lost. Schmidt went after the women vote by going after a female running-mate for McCain, but bypassed a lot of qualified female Republican politicians and selected Palin; a person no one knew about. It ends up biting Schmidt in the a** in the end, because (in all fairness) Palin refuses to be a puppet/yes-man, becomes hard to work with/for, and eventually alienates herself from the campaign team, including McCain. Palin looks like an idiot partly because she was just a person who was placed in an overwhelming situation that eventually got the best of her. Harrelson is wonderful as the man who tries to put together a winning team, and lives through a nightmare of a failing campaign. He is the campaign manager who’s acted in haste and is repenting at painful leisure. His performance is awesome and compellingly real. Ed Harris channels McCain and adds another stunning performance. The film portrays the Senator in an admirable light as he accepts his defeat with grace. It is a very telling, visionary, moment when he bids Palin farewell and warns her of Limbaugh and the extremists. It definitely foreshadows current events. Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin is about as believable as it gets. She plays Palin with enough sympathy that it’s hard not to be moved by the plight of a woman who’s in way over her head. This is a remarkable performance and a tribute to her formidable acting skills. Another performance I found outstanding was that of Sarah Paulson as the long-suffering aide trying to prep SP. I watched this documentary with an objective mind. Sarah Palin went to Junior college here in Hawaii many years ago (1980s). I was in her classes so I know her personally. Yes, she wasn’t known for her intelligence. She is that dumb. She was popular at school though! I was surprised when Senator McCain picked her. I wondered if she was the root of his problematic campaign and I now see she was. I felt that it was very well balanced. In my view, this is, if anything, overly fair to her. It is very frightening that a candidate such as Palin could get a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the USA. It’s horrifying to think they could have won an election with a candidate that could only memorize foreign policy but not understand it. Great movie. Excellent. This is an outstanding docudrama. I like it, and you should watch it. Docudrama 2012 TV-MA 118 minutes. As to the truth of this portrayal, also see the subsequent documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha!

Sara Palin: You Betcha!

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