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Movie Review: “Game Change”

Looking at the 2012 HBO movie "Game Change" which stars Julianne Moore as former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin who is chosen to be John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 Presidential election. It looks at Palin in an empathetic way and also explores how our national leaders are chosen.

It’ll be interesting to see what people think of “Game Change,” assuming of course that they can get past their own political prejudices to watch it. We have long since made up our minds about the former Vice Presidential candidate and are either for or against her, but this HBO movie offers a more intimate look at her that you won’t find on any episode of “Saturday Night Live.” But even then, the movie is not all about her and deals more specifically with how people are selected to become national leaders. While you may think it’s the Presidential candidate who makes this final decision, that doesn’t always prove to be the case.

“Game Change” opens with a scene from a “60 Minutes” interview Cooper Anderson does with John McCain’s chief campaign strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) after the campaign has ended in which he asks Schmidt if he regretted choosing Palin as McCain’s running mate. The look on his face is perplexing as if he wants to say yes or is maybe instead looking for a better away to answer the question so it will seem more thoughtful. Either way we don’t find out his answer till the movie’s end, but we wonder about that question throughout.

Schmidt is seen as reluctant to join McCain’s campaign for President of the United States, but his respect for the Senator from Arizona eventually makes him a chief participant. But after McCain wins the Republican nomination, a bigger problem looms; the politicians he is thinking of selecting for his running mate won’t help him overcome the excitement Americans have for Barack Obama. This leads his political advisers Rick Davis (Peter MacNicol) and Mark Salter (Jamey Sheridan) to suggest Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin who they see as a “game changer.” Even though she has not been in office for very long, they believe that choosing Palin will enhance McCain’s image as a political maverick. Sure enough, Palin energizes his campaign in a way few others could with her strong presence and conviction of purpose. But when it comes to world and political affairs, that’s where everyone comes to develop a severe case of anxiety (including Palin herself).

Now I know Plain herself has made it clear that she has absolutely no interest in watching “Game Change,” but she is actually portrayed here with a lot of empathy. As played by Julianne Moore, Palin is sincere in her efforts in wanting to help McCain win the Presidency and is shown to be a loving mother and wife. Upon being introduced to the world as “the next Vice President of the United States,” Palin becomes overwhelmed with the negative press thrown in her direction to where she’s not sure how to deal with it. There are scenes where she watches helplessly as Tina Fey does her on “Saturday Night Live,” and you can’t help but feel for her even if it made for some great comedy on that show.

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