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“Game Change” – Review (POSITIVE)

March 11, 2012

HBO Films & Tom Hanks’ Playtone present an interesting portrait of the 2008 Presidential Election through the perspective of the McCain/Palin side. But whom does the movie really focus on? There’s John McCain (Ed Harris) who wants to win, but also win the respect of the American people, there’s of course the hell-bounded fury fighting female political figure Gov. Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore), and lastly the McCain/Palin political advisor Steve Schmidt. It’s clear that the focus is on Palin & Schmidt more than McCain, while McCain is the backdrop to the whole drama, the drama nevertheless focuses on Schmidt’s radical decision to bring in Palin, and Palin being that living breathing radical.

It’s interesting to see this sort of ‘rise to power’ story being told. Many of us are familiar with Sarah Palin’s viewpoints, much of it on the brink of being comical, but the stuff we’ve come to know her saying, “See Russia from Alaska”, “O’Biden”, she’s taking everything seriously, she believes in what she’s saying, which inclosing hurts McCain’s race. Palin was on the verge of mental collapse; she had episodes, and refused to listen, leading to her failed attempt of an interview with Katie Couric. How Steve Schmidt overlooked all the important key factors of choosing a running mate boggles my mind, and I’m sure it boggles his to this very day. The movie opens with that famous “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper, Cooper asked Schmidt that if he could do it all over again would he still pick Sarah?

The actors are extremely good here, I love pretty much anything Woody Harrelson does, and he’s not doing a Steve Schmidt impersonation, he’s doing an honest interpretation of the person, the man so to speak. Now, Julianne Moore playing Sarah Palin is a much more difficult character to invest into. We’ve seen so many people impersonate Palin in the past, but it’s mostly played for laughs, a-la-Tina Fey SNL. Moore’s performances, was honest, but scary at times, because there were moments were I forgot I was watching an actress and I saw the real Sarah Palin. It’s great to have a cast that is that invested in bringing characters, living ones no less, to life on the screen.

I like Ed Harris, I think he’s a fantastic actor, but for some reason I didn’t like his McCain, it just didn’t seem to match for me. His voice was too…Ed Harris-y, if that means anything, sure he’s got the look down, but it just for some odd reason didn’t jive with me. Really, that was my only major issue with the film. Director Jay Roach returns to direct another Presidential Election drama for HBO, his last one was the 2008 “Recount” about the 2001 Florida recount. He does a lot of similar styles in telling the story, character subtitles introducing the ‘real-life people’, weaving the media footage with the cinematic footage is almost flawless here. My grandparents were convinced that the filmmakers actually got VP Joe Biden to play himself for the debate scene. That’s movie magic!

You don’t have to be a fan of Palin to watch this movie, I feel that anybody and anyone who had different views about the 2008 election can watch this movie with an open mind, because it has a sort of trance of the viewer, giving them the inside look on what it takes to run an election and try to win it the best you can. It also shows you how power can get the better of someone good at first.


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