Game Change: The Movie (TV 2012)

A review - by Shlomoh Sherman
March 11, 2012

Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Mark Halperin (book), Danny Strong (adaptation),
Stars: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris
Shown: Sunday, March 10, 9PM on HBO
Plot Keywords: Politician - Presidential Campaign - 2008 Presidential Election
Taglines: Politics would never be the same.
Genres: Drama - History
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: March 10, 2012 (USA)
Filming Locations: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Company Credits: Production Co: HBO Films, Playtone
Soundtracks: "Beyond the Great Divide" written by J.C. Crowley and Jack Wesley Routh, performed by Emmylou Harris

Storyline: Follows John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate to their ultimate defeat in the general election.

D_Burke, in his review, "We All Lived Through 'Game Change', & It's Hard To Believe We Did", points out:   "I personally don't know how accurate 'Game Change' is. The film is based upon one-third of the 2010 bestseller of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Their book, detailing the entire 2008 Presidential election and allegations thereof in both parties, had been criticized for relying on too many anonymous sources and lacking explicit sourcing."

Along with Mr. Burke, I confess my own ignorance as to how accurate a portrayal of 2008 history the film is. That said, I have only to write a review of the "facts" as presented by the movie.

Let me begin with statements about Sarah Palin. For someone who does not like her very much, I was moved by RACHMONES for her. For those of you who are not familiar with the Yiddish language, RACHMONES translates as 'compassion". Liberals [and others] may make fun of Palin. I see nothing constructive or morally edifying in doing this. A few years ago, a Jewish writer wrote an essay about why Jewish women don't like Palin. As a Jew I can agree that Palin demonstrates characteristics that Jews may call "GOYISH". She likes hunting and crows about it. She is all into creationism and is anti-choice and anti-stemcell research, and she looks like the beautiful but dangerously sexually alluring SHIKSA.

But Sarah is a human being with the right to be whoever she is, and if anyone wants to blame her for the Republican loss in 2008, they are off track as far as I am concerned. The film made me realize that blame should be placed with the campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, and ultimately with Senator McCain. The film points out that McCain wanted Joe Lieberman as a running mate and was convinced he could win with Lieberman as his running mate, and possibly he was right. Perhaps even *I* would have voted for that ticket.

Unfortunately McCain was talked out of his conviction by Schmidt who convinced him that social conservatives would never vote for Lieberman, not because he is Jewish but because he is pro-choice. Republican-Conservative concentration on so-called "family value" social issues has been and continues to be their downfall, probably this year as it was in 2008.

Palin may have been very able to address these social issues but she was NOT able to address the issues that are of vital concern to most critically thinking Americans, namely, the economy, housing, foreign relations and war, and the awful state of modern world. The film's depiction of Sarah's inability to deal with these issues despite intense prepping and propting, is difficult, almost painfull, to watch. Any decent person can only feel and empathize with her pain.

Was there a time when McCain could have over-ridden Schmidt's choice and insisted that Palin withdraw, to be replaced by Lieberman or some other candidate? Yes, at the first sign that Palin was going to a problem for the campaign. But he didn't. The film shows that he kept on relying on Schmidt's assurances and the assurances of other campaign workers that Palin would "pull it off."

A heartbreaking moment occurs in the film when Nicolle Wallace, the woman responsible for prepping Palin, breaks down and weeps on Schmidt's shoulder, confessing that she did not vote for Palin.

At the film's end,, Woody Harrelson, as Schmidt, is asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper whether he regretted putting Palin on the ticket. As the scene fades to black, Schmidt, open mouthed, remains silent.

The scenes in which Palin is relating to children with down syndrome and their parents on the campaign trail are perhaps the most endearing in the film which sweetly shows mothers telling Palin that this is the first time in their lives that a candidate has spoken to their hearts and that she is THEIR personal candidate.

Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris are two of my favorite actors and their portrayals of Steve Schmidt and John McCain respectively are spot on although Cindy McCain, in a recent interview, said that in real life, her husband does not use profanity, much used by McCain in the movie.

I cannot tell you how on the mark the producers were in choosing Julianne Moore to play Sarah Palin. This beautiful, talented actress never fails in any of her roles and frankly I have been in love with her since I first saw her in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2". We all remember her in "Boogie Nights", "Hannibal", "The Forgotten" [in which I did extra work], "The Hours", "Far From Heaven", "The End of the Affair" just to mention a few of her versatile portrayals. It's uncanny how she was made to resemble Palin so that at times, you actually think you are watching the real Sarah.

Cast overview, first billed only:

         Julianne Moore ... Sarah Palin
         Woody Harrelson ... Steve Schmidt
         Ed Harris       ... John McCain
         Peter MacNicol ... Rick Davis
         Jamey Sheridan ... Mark Salter
         Sarah Paulson ... Nicolle Wallace
         Ron Livingston ... Mark Wallace
         David Barry Gray ... Todd Palin
         Larry Sullivan ... Chris Edwards
         Mikal Evans       ... Bexie Nobles
         Colby French ... Tucker Eskew
         Bruce Altman ... Fred Davis
         Spencer Garrett ... Steve Biegun
         Brian Howe       ... Randy Scheunemann
         John Rothman ... A.B. Culvahouse

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