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Some ‘Change’ (The HBO Movie: GAME CHANGE, about the McCain-Palin campaign was a waste of time)
National Review ^ | 03/11/2012 | Jim Geraghty

Posted on 03/12/2012 6:09:04 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

HBO director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong spent millions of dollars and cast some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in an unparalleled effort to dispel the widespread misperception that John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign was a well-oiled machine.

Game Change, the HBO movie airing on Saturday, is based on a book of the same name, written by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time.

If you are a fan of Sarah Palin, you will loathe this movie. If you hate Sarah Palin, large swaths of this movie will be more thrilling than pornography. If you are somewhere in the middle, you will find yourself wondering why you’re watching big-name actors reenact extremely recent events, with limited new revelations, insight, or lessons from it all. It’s kind of like watching a batch of Oscar-nominated actors performing a dramatic reading of a transcript of the last GOP presidential debate. (Colin Firth as Romney! Daniel Day-Lewis as Santorum! Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gingrich! Sir Ben Kingsley as Ron Paul!) The actors bring their best efforts, but in the end, you realize you’ve seen it before, and not even that long ago.

You have to sympathize with actors who are called upon not just to play familiar faces, but to portray them in scenes where every viewer has already seen the real-life events. Julianne Moore accurately emulates Palin’s crisp enunciation at her first event in Ohio, at the 2008 Republican convention, and in her debate with Biden but . . . why? What’s the point of showing an actress imitating something that we witnessed with our own eyes? The contrast is even odder every time the movie shifts to archival news footage of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. (An actor portrays Biden for one odd backstage pre-debate stretching routine.)

The movie begins and closes with the real Anderson Cooper interviewing Woody Harrelson, reenacting his interview with McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt (the noble hero in the movie’s narrative). Not once but twice Game Change offers us Moore-as-Palin watching in horror Tina Fey’s impression of her on Saturday Night Live. Somewhere, sometime in the future, the real Sarah Palin will watch Moore-as-Palin watching Fey-as-Palin, and we will set a new record for meta-references. The fact that we know the 2008 election results isn’t the main source of the movie’s predictability.

It’s not really clear that Game Change has much of a lesson or theme beyond “Make sure you thoroughly vet your running mate.” The creators of Game Change have insisted, endlessly, that they were not aiming to create agitprop. And to their credit, they offer a few scenes where Palin is depicted extremely sympathetically, including a montage of Down Syndrome children and their parents coming forward to Palin to say how much her pride in her son has inspired them. Palin haters may shift uncomfortably in their seats at this point. After Schmidt worries about Palin’s physical and mental health, an incredulous doctor remarks, “Considering that she gave birth five months ago, her daughter is pregnant, and her son’s in Iraq, I think she’s doing remarkably well.”

There’s a scene of the Palins late at night, where Todd reassures his wife that she’ll be at her best if she acts natural and talks to the audience as if they were her neighbors. But after that debate with Biden, Moore depicts Palin as the out-of-control diva, and the movie score gets heavy-handed with its Frankenstein theme. You keep waiting for Schmidt to howl, “What have I done? I’ve created a MONSTER!!!!”

Although the book Game Change is about the entire 2008 race, in the film Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the other Democrats are offstage the entire time. Observers have noticed that the book offered a lot of tense, previously unreported drama in the primary fight between Obama and Clinton. Perhaps the creators of the film would have felt creatively restricted in telling a story about the current president and the current secretary of state. Or perhaps they couldn’t bring themselves to portray any Democrat negatively.

Palin’s camp has complained about the inaccuracy of the film; its creators dismiss the complaint. Danny Strong, the actor who wrote the screenplay, told MSNBC, “We stand by the film as being completely accurate and truthful and representing what happened. It’s true. The movie’s true.”

Any film that portrays the events of months or years is going to truncate events, leave things out, and make other changes to fit the running time and pacing of a movie. But where the filmmakers really let their disdain for everyone involved in the McCain campaign seep through is in the scenes they added.

For example, one foreign-policy adviser shows Palin a map and declares, “This is Germany. They were the primary antagonists during World War I and World War II. They allied with Japan to form what became known as the Axis Powers.” A fascinated Palin dutifully writes it down. The scene does not appear in the Heilemann and Halperin book. This scene was the opening anecdote of the glowing review by Bloomberg. Foreign-policy analyst Randy Scheunemann, Palin’s primary adviser on these issues during the campaign, calls the scene “absolutely untrue.”

Told that none of the potential running mates his team has been discussing will help his trailing campaign, Ed Harris’s McCain responds, rather dismissively, “Okay, so find me a woman.” Those words never appear in the book, and Steve Schmidt has stated McCain never said that. (It’s a small point, but the usually solid actor Harris occasionally portrays McCain raising his arms over his head at campaign rallies, something that his war injuries make impossible for McCain to do.)

Harrelson’s Steve Schmidt watches Palin’s answers to Katie Couric’s questions and gasps, “Oh my God! What have we done?” That scene and those words do not appear in Heilemann and Halperin’s book, either.

You can’t invent scenes and quotes and then insist the film is “completely accurate and truthful.”

The creators of Game Change would probably insist that their work be interpreted as a work of entertainment, not journalism. But each change from the book (presuming, of course, Heilemann and Halperin’s reporting is accurate) moves the story in a particular direction. Palin becomes dumber. McCain becomes more craven, cynical, and desperate to win. McCain’s campaign aides are sloppier, more panicky, a mess. What director Roach and screenwriter Strong are portraying is recent history as they wish it had been.

Of course, movies create their own legends and shape public perception in ways that mere journalism can’t. The words “Follow the money” never appear in the book version of All the President’s Men.

For all the efforts of the cast, it’s easy to be left wondering what the point of all this is. As it is, Game Change’s creators seem to fear that the existing perception of Sarah Palin is too positive, and that the existing reputation of the 2008 McCain campaign is too generous. It’s theoretically possible that some viewers will find this film surprising and revealing; they would be that very small demographic of people who have no memory or knowledge of the 2008 presidential campaign, but are interested in watching a movie about it.

An ungenerous mind might suspect that when Roach and Strong chose to create the film, they believed Sarah Palin would be running for president right now, or might even be the de facto GOP nominee. They might have thought that Obama’s reelection campaign would require a heavily hyped star vehicle designed to remind voters of all those important messages — that Palin knows nothing, that she’s a basket case, that she’s “crazy” enough to believe the hand of God can be seen in everything in her life, and so on. They might have believed that the goal of a second term for Obama could be achieved by a negative biopic designed to portray Sarah Palin as the worst possible choice for commander-in-chief.

Even a glamorous, big-budget, 120-minute attack ad would have at least been relevant to the moment. As it is, the movie was made by people who didn’t vote for Sarah Palin for an audience that doesn’t like Sarah Palin — a two-hour exercise of creators and viewers patting themselves on the back and exclaiming, “Aren’t we terrific for not voting for Sarah Palin?”

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.

TOPICS: History; Society; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: gamechange; mccain; palin; sarahpalin

Ed Harris as John McCain, Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin
1 posted on 03/12/2012 6:09:13 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I have HBO and didn’t bother to watch it...watched instead Yanni in Concert in El Morro, Puerto Rico on GPB.

2 posted on 03/12/2012 6:29:57 AM PDT by Hotlanta Mike (TeaNami)
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To: SeekAndFind

I like Palin..I always have. I find it curious that the left HAD to make a movie of Palin. I think they are still scared she will run in one capacity or another and they fear her.

3 posted on 03/12/2012 6:43:02 AM PDT by stillafreemind
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To: SeekAndFind

“...the widespread misperception that John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign was a well-oiled machine.”

While I’m sure this propaganda epic is probably nothing more than a counter version of “Lenin in October,” he kind of lost me with that statement. I thought McCain’s campaign bordered on the bizarre.

4 posted on 03/12/2012 6:45:10 AM PDT by henkster (Andrew Breitbart would not have apologized.)
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To: stillafreemind
Same here. I have yet to hear the woman say anything with which I can substantially disagree and the story of her rise in politics is the stuff a very inspiring film should be made of. The story of a middle class mother of four (later five with the last being a "special needs" child) who takes on the "Establishment" and not only survives but thrives under attack by people who can only be categorized as demonically possessed in their raw hatred and venom.

But this line had to be pure sarcasm or the writer comes from some bizarre parallel universe: "the widespread misperception that John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign was a well-oiled machine." The phrase "train wreck" does it no justice and none of that, repeat "none", was the fault of the lady from Alaska.

5 posted on 03/12/2012 6:55:44 AM PDT by katana (Just my opinions)
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To: katana

Not that McCain operatives didn’t try to hang it around her neck, both then and later.

6 posted on 03/12/2012 7:01:47 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (St. Joseph, patron of fathers, pray for us!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I find it interesting the two writers admit to stealing portions from going rogue.

They also admit to fabricating events for dramatic effect.

Since woody “pot” harildson (sp?) is in this it speaks volumes to the low credibility of the project.

7 posted on 03/12/2012 7:04:57 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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To: SeekAndFind

That’s all right, I’ve heard that the producers of “Game Change” are working on a movie about Obama called “Barack: The Leftist Radical the Media Hid From the Public.” Obama’s radical past, all the leftist wackos he hung out with, and all his disastrous decisions as president stemming from his radicalism will be in the flick. (smirk)

8 posted on 03/12/2012 7:31:36 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: sauropod


9 posted on 03/12/2012 7:32:25 AM PDT by sauropod (You can elect your very own tyranny - Marc Levin)
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To: henkster

You missed the sarcasm.

10 posted on 03/12/2012 8:03:10 AM PDT by free me (heartless)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: ColdEquations
Regardless of how we feel inside about our candidates, we should expect a certain level of knowledge on the major issues surrounding our country.

Well, true. So when is HBO going to make a movie about Joe Biden? They won't even have to make up "behind closed doors" examples of him being a dummy, they can just play the real Joe talking in public, saying stupid stuff.

12 posted on 03/12/2012 9:58:13 AM PDT by pepsi_junkie (Who is John Galt?)
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To: stillafreemind
I find it curious that the left HAD to make a movie of Palin.

"Julianne Moore accurately emulates Palin’s crisp enunciation at her first event in Ohio, at the 2008 Republican convention, and in her debate with Biden but . . . why?"

Same old thing actually. Reality does not fit their narrative, so something is made up to make the sheep believe the leftist's BS.

Look for late night re-runs closer to the election...


13 posted on 03/12/2012 10:30:23 AM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: SeekAndFind

Schmidt, Wallace and the producers swear that everything in GC is the truth. In the scenes where it shows Palin alone or where it shows Sarah and Todd talking, who witnessed them? Did they bug Palin? Are Jason Recher and Randy Scheunemann lying? What would be funny if Jason and Randy suggested that all of them take a polygraph.

If Schmidt admits that the scene showing McCain saying, “bring me a woman” didn’t actually happen, why should we believe any of it?

The biggest disappointment is that so many of the GOPe are sitting on their hands, or even worse, attended the premier.

I don’t know who’s more scared of Palin, the left or the GOPe. It may be the GOPe because Palin will reform and rebuild the GOP. She’ll do it from the bottom up and she’ll have the support of Rush and Levin while she’s doing it. She will turn the GOP into a Conservative Populist party as opposed to a Squishy Semi-Conservative Statist party. It may take ten years to accomplish, but by that time she’ll be ready to move into the WH.

14 posted on 03/12/2012 1:29:52 PM PDT by RefudiateObama2012
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To: RefudiateObama2012

Not only that but they claim Nicole Wallace as a source- but they have some scene in the movie of her watching the convention speech or debate in a motel rrom with wine- when the real pics show that she was present. The pics that Sarahpac presented showed her and others all smiles & Palin looks far from a basket case. By the way Shealah Craighead was the photog during the campaign and used by Palin since. She said with palin “what you see is what you get”

15 posted on 03/12/2012 6:55:59 PM PDT by Truthfreesus
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To: ColdEquations was asking Woody Harrelson’s character questions while he was taking a leak.

That’s probably the most productive and concise thing he does in a day.

16 posted on 03/12/2012 7:33:14 PM PDT by sgtyork (The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage. Thucydides)
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To: driftless2

With Chris Rock as Baraq, no doubt.

17 posted on 03/12/2012 7:40:31 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg (Myth Romney: All that hair is really just a Whig.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Isn’t it a bit silly to watch a pretend movie about Sarah Palin with a liberal pretending to be Sarah Palin, when the real Sarah Palin and her actual real campaign is by coincidence being show right this very minute on the cable channel “REELZ”.

The real movie, about the real campaign, with the real Sarah Palin, the real Andrew Breitbart, the Real Tammy Bruce.

“The Undefeated”.

Is on right now.

18 posted on 03/12/2012 7:46:12 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network ("The door is open" PALIN 2012)
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Hotlanta Mike; All

A hit piece by the rats on Sarah for sure, but you have to admit they made Moore into the spitting image of Sarah.

20 posted on 03/13/2012 2:59:46 AM PDT by patriot08 (TEXAS GAL- born and bred and proud of it!)
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