Posted in: Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 4th, 2013
One of the things that HBO does best is to tackle an issue-orientated hot button topic in an adult and in-depth manner. It does this better than big-screen movies, because Hollywood is afraid to do it because it doesn’t pay. Hollywood likes to win awards and get Oscars, but it’s money first. HBO can do intelligent programs with modest budgets that appeal to their subscribers and fit their format. They know they are the best at a certain type of programing, and they know what they’re doing.
Game Change is interesting in a lot of ways. It is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at an important moment in the modern Republican party. The 2008 presidential election is still relevant and in the hearts and minds of most Americans. Game Change gives us a close up of what exactly happened and what we don’t know about what happened.
The game change of the title was to change the face of the Republican party from the party of old white men to the party that nominated a woman for vice president. The McCain campaign needed to take on the cult of personality that surrounded candidate Obama in the lead up to November 11. They needed to make a big statement. That statement was Sarah Palin.
Palin looked great on paper and met all the demands they had for their new strategy, but she was an unknown. She was more of an unknown than anyone knew. One thing that was sure and became more and more clear was that she could create her own cult of personality.
It is very important when doing this kind of true-life slice of history that you get all your facts right and you present a balanced, unbiased view.
That fact is that Palin was a wild card and was a game changer. She is a unique political personality and had enormous appeal. She also had big deficiencies. This movie does its job by fairly depicting all sides of the events that went on in the McCain campaign. The real tricky part is the depiction of Palin. She has an image of being a gee whiz, golly gee persona. She was the governor of Alaska, and she was a woman who prided herself on fighting the good old boy network. She also was someone who had big deficiencies on many issues important to anyone expected to ever having to step into being the leader of the free world. To put it more simply, Palin was a joke to the so-called “liberal media”.
Frankly, Palin has faded from the national spotlight in the last few years because eventually a decision was made to distance her from Republican party leaders. But no one can deny for a time she was a superstar with incredible charisma and common-people touch that was honest and undeniable. The real challenge the campaign had to deal with was they learned that she had to be brought up to speed on just about every major national policy issue. That Tina Fey and every other comedian in the country thought that God had smiled on them by giving them comic gold soon became a huge publicity management issue. Was it a good or bad thing that she was becoming almost more of a comedy star than a political one? Palin herself became more and more uncomfortable with everything that was happening at the same time that she was tough and game for every challenge.
As usual with this type of HBO production, Game Change was very high-profile. Every performance was dead on, especially Julianne Moore as Palin, Ed Harris as McCain, and Woody Harrelson as chief political adviser Steve Schmidt. McCain is shown as a true stand-up guy and one of the deserved shining lights of the Republican party. In the end this movie is about Palin. No matter what happens to her eventually, one thing is certain. She will always be loved by many people in this country, and that’s understandable because she has many loveable qualities. This movie also shows why it is unlikely that she will ever be vice president. She just isn’t cut out for the cutthroat world of national politics.