Friday, March 30, 2012

Game Change

I wasn't sure if I should review Jay Roach's new HBO movie Game Change or not. I'm not really the most politically minded individual, and there's nothing I dislike more than debating with people. I do follow the news to a degree and hold my own opinions, but, as my website says, "I like to like things"; meaning I don't really like to get bogged down by the negative.

Game Change is the story of John McCain's (played by Ed Harris) 2008 Republican presidential campaign. When Barack Obama is selected as the Democratic candidate, his political advisors (led by Steve Schmidt, played by Woody Harrelson) assure him that the only way he would be able to maintain his "maverick" image in the face of that is to select a woman as his vice president. After looking at all the potentials, they fall upon Alaska's extremely popular governor Sarah Palin (played by Julianne Moore), and at a cursory glance, she appears to fit the bill.

Unfortunately, they were so dazzled and excited by her prospects, that cursory glance is the only glance they make, and that mistake keeps coming back to get them. They didn't really do a thorough background check. They didn't check to see if she had knowledge of international affairs. Palin, while charismatic and controversial, just wasn't ready for the pressure the campaign would put on her.

Julianne Moore does a great Palin, her performance goes deeper than just being an impression. I didn't see the movie as a smear campaign against her. In fact, I felt the movie humanized her and made her more a little more sympathetic. She was dealing with a level of pressure and scrutiny that she'd never dealt with before way out in Alaska. She obviously cared a lot what people thought of her, as evidenced by how upset she was over Tina Fey's Palin bits on SNL.

That said, Palin also looooooved the positive attention. She knew how to play in front of the camera, as long as they didn't as any "gotcha questions". Her advisors tutored her and had her memorize what she couldn't charm her way through. She really saw this campaign as a chance to get out of Alaska.

At least, this is how the Game Change portrays it all. I don't know what's true and what isn't, though the movie seems pretty plausible to me, and is based on a book featuring several insider accounts of the events. As a whole, I enjoyed Game Change as a film, though there were some scenes that seemed maybe a little too overdramatized, such as advisor Nicolle Wallace's (Sarah Paulson) tearful admission that she couldn't bring herself to vote. Still, I felt it shed some light on what wound up being a very bizarre and singular occurrence in political history, where the candidate for Vice President stole the spotlight from the candidate for President.

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