Mike Kueber's Blog

March 11, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #16 – Game Change

Filed under: Movie reviews,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 12:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

Game Change was literally Saturday Night at the Movies when it premiered on HBO last night.  The movie, which is based on a best-selling book of the same name by respected journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, focuses on the game-changing role played by Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential election.  When I reviewed the book, I blogged that the book was primarily about the Democratic primary contest, but that it did say the following about Palin:

  • McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was an example of risky, gut-based behavior.  For several weeks, McCain was planning to pick qualified, liberal senator Joe Lieberman, but that pick was derailed shortly before the planned announcement.  With only a week to select a replacement, McCain reacted by selecting Palin, and because Palin hadn’t even been on his short-list, she received only a five-day vetting.  When the chief vetter concluded that Palin was, “high risk, high reward,” McCain responded that the vetter shouldn’t have phrased it that way because McCain always loved to gamble.

At the end of the blog review, I concluded the following:

  • Early in this review, I suggested that reading Game Change was unlikely to change many votes. Did it change mine? No, I voted for Obama and would do so again. My rationale was that McCain behaved erratically during the campaign, not only by picking Palin, but also by proposing a gas-tax moratorium and suspending his campaign to address the financial crisis, but then doing nothing to address it. By way of contrast, Obama was steady and analytical. Obama is like a calculating athlete who works hard to put himself in the best position to succeed, whereas McCain doesn’t put a lot of stock into preparation and instead excels at playing the game. McCain has been able to succeed in life because of his common sense, good judgment, and the force of his personality.

The HBO movie Game Change accurately reflected the tone of the book – Sarah Palin is a wonderfully talented politician with the charisma of a Ronald Reagan, but she was woefully unprepared to be on the ticket as a vice-presidential candidate.  Julianne Moore plays Palin, and the other major actors are Ed Burns as McCain and Woody Harrelson as McCain’s leading advisor Steve Schmidt.  Harrelson has almost as much screen time as Moore, and you almost get the feeling that this story is being told from his perspective, although he was only one of 300 sources that the book’s authors relied on.   

Many Republican partisans have already lambasted the movie as false, a criticism they leveled at the book, too.  But two leading McCain partisans have confirmed the accuracy of the movie.  As reported in Wikipedia:

  • However, Steve Schmidt, the campaign’s chief strategist, stated: “Ten weeks of the campaign are condensed into a two-hour movie. But it tells the truth of the campaign. That is the story of what happened.”  He later said that watching the film was tantamount to “an out-of-body experience.”
  • Nicolle Wallace, a chief Palin 2008 aide, said she found Game Change highly credible, saying the film “captured the spirit and emotion of the campaign.”[

Wikipedia also reports that Moore does a better job of capturing Palin than does SNL’s Tina Fey:

  • David Hinckley of The New York Daily News wrote, “Julianne Moore’s physical Palin in Game Change, which debuts March 10, is even more dead-on than Tina Fey’s.”  The comedian Tina Fey, who was noted for her physical resemblance to Palin, won an Emmy Award in 2009 for her satirical impersonation of Palin on the sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live.

I agree with Hinckley, but I am also reminded of SNL’s Fey saying that she was not nearly as attractive as Palin.  I have been watching Palin make regular appearances on Sean Hannity’s TV show on Fox, and she is an incredibly attractive person.  Julianne Moore may be more attractive than Tina Fey, but she pales in comparison to the real thing, Sarah Palin.

Ronald Reagan lost his first attempt to get on the Republican ticket, and end up as a Republican icon.  Although this movie does nothing good for the Palin brand, I would hold off on printing her political obituary.

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