“Game Change” Review [Part 01 of 02]

What It Is

“Game Change” is an HBO film about Sarah Palin that was based on a book that was written by the dude that called President Obama a dick on national television:

YouTube Link => youtu.be/449FGJwDQRY

According to the interviews I’ve seen, the book is actually about both the Democrat and Republican races in 2008, but since they had to condense it to a 2-hour movie, they elected to focus on the Palin angle.

Also according to video footage I’ve seen, both Palin and John McCain have denounced the film, even though neither had seen it at the time of their interviews, but that makes sense if they weren’t personally consulted about the script and the potential authenticity (or not) of the book it was based on.

Why I Watched It

I don’t give a flying **** about politics. The only reason I’ve been paying attention to the 2012 Presidential race, and blogging about it, is because I was entirely amazed that the Republicans (in my non-politics-following estimation) threw up a “Hail Mary” and forfeited the 2008 Presidential campaign by selecting Sarah Palin to run as Vice President with John McCain.

As soon as Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, my quest in life became to figure out WHY the Republicans made that choice. That’s why I’ve been closely monitoring the 2012 nomination process, and I’ve been learning, but “Game Change”, fictional or not, gives me the insight I’ve been craving, as to how this could possibly have happened.

Initially, I felt like the 2008 election was going to be fascinating, yet typical. I thought the best thing that could possibly happen is that the Democrats were going to run Hillary Clinton and lose decisively in the general election, merely on the male vs. female President issue.

I had never in my life heard of Barack Obama as of February 09, 2007, when I posted the video “WHEN Hillary Is President” => http://billcammack.com/2007/02/09/reelsolidtv-episode-39-when-hillary-is-president/

YouTube Link => youtu.be/EZBf472OsnM

Eventually, I heard (probably because I walked by a television that was running somewhere, because I don’t watch the news) that a black guy was running, and he was actually a viable candidate this time, not just a symbolic “Non-whites can be President, too! :O” social token.


In 1888 Frederick Douglass was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention. Afterward during the roll call vote, he received one vote, so was nominally a candidate for the presidency. In those years, the candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency were chosen by state representatives voting at the nominating convention. Many decisions were made by negotiations of state and party leaders “behind closed doors.” Douglass was not a serious candidate in contemporary terms.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American major party candidate for president. She was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination and participated in the Democratic primaries in numerous states.[1] She campaigned in 12 states and won 28 delegates.[2] In 1984 and 1988, Jesse Jackson was the first major party black candidate to run nationwide primary campaigns. He also ran as a Democratic Party candidate.[3]

In 1992 Alan Keyes was the first African-American candidate to run in the Republican presidential primaries.[citation needed] Keyes ran again, unsuccessfully, in 1996, 2000, and 2008. In 2004, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton ran as unsuccessful candidates in the Democratic primaries. “Tea Party” Republican Herman Cain has announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2012, though he has since suspended his campaign.

So I was fascinated by this concept and wanted to know how the American people were going to respond to a real candidate, as opposed to one of these “Run, Jesse, Run! :D” situations that was immensely historically significant while simultaneously logically ridiculous => en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Jackson#1984_presidential_campaign.

I was totally like “It’s possible… It’s possible…. It’s possible…..” until I heard the Republicans selected Palin, at which point I immediately said to myself “Barack Obama is going to be President! :D” HAHAHAHA I mean, I had no doubt in my mind that the race was over when I heard about Palin.

President Palin

The reason I knew it was over was because the Republicans shifted the focus from disinterest in McCain to VIRULENT opposition to “President Palin”.

I see, from “Game Change”, why they selected her, and it may have been the best thing they could have done to try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but to someone like myself, who doesn’t care about politics at all, this became the entire focus:

“This dude McCain doesn’t look all that healthy. If he croaks in office, we will have unwittingly elected Sarah Palin President of the United States of America.”

That concept, Palin being the actual President, was enough to get *ANYBODY* off their asses and to the polls to prevent that.

Once I found out about that, I was like “people are going to vote like crazy *AGAINST* the Republican ticket, even if they weren’t already going to vote *FOR* the Democrats”.

This all happened immediately for me. There was no doubt in my mind AT ALL that the Republicans were extremely desperate and the race was over as soon as they announced Palin… This was *BEFORE* we found out all the extra stuff about her in the upcoming weeks.

It’s like when you’re going to select a team for sports. First, you want to pick a good quarterback. If you can’t throw the ball and you can’t scramble, you’re probably going to lose. SECOND.. You have to pick a good wide receiver. If the WR can’t get open, there’s nobody for the QB to throw to, and you still lose.

When Obama picked Biden, that was the 1-2 punch. I was like “McCain is going to have to pick a GOOD Vice President in order to..” then they announced Palin, and I was like “It’s over! :D”

I think one of the major miscalculations the Republicans made was thinking that all females are similar. They aren’t.

Just because lots of people were ready to support Hillary Clinton, that doesn’t mean you can pick any woman out of a hat and run her one 72-year-old’s heartbeat away from being President.

Anyway.. I wanted to give my personal background for watching “Game Change”.. In fact, if I had known they were making this movie, I could have saved myself the last six months of misery, watching the Republican nomination tomfoolery, trying to get a clue about how a Palin selection was even possible, *AND* whether the Republicans had any better selections, four years later…

Game Change

This film wasn’t created by asking Palin or McCain what actually happened, but the filmmakers claim that they researched the situations with a lot of people that were there and witnessed it, such as Nicolle Wallace, one of Sarah Palin’s top advisers, who was featured prominently in the film, and who said that “Game Change” was true enough to make her squirm.

That doesn’t make the movie authentic, but it’s different from just speculating about what someone was thinking. You have people that stood there and listened to her say what she said and watched her do what she did.

I wanted to say that up front, because this is a theatrical presentation, which shouldn’t be taken as “word is bond”, but more like an approximation of what probably happened behind the scenes.

YouTube Link => youtu.be/IPhh7mch5zo

I think the first important point is that they selected Ed Harris to play John McCain.

Ed Harris is a *BRILLIANT* actor. He plays people that you’re supposed to hate, but you root for them anyway, such as the super-evil badguy expert sniper in “Enemy At The Gates”. He picks somebody off, and you’re like “OOH!.. NICE SHOT! :D” instead of “DAMN HIM!!! :(”

Also, Ed Harris is currently in good shape. In 2008, John McCain was not. One thing that was missing from the film was the horrific concept that I mentioned above, which was “What if McCain keels over?”.. Pretty much, you feel in the movie that if McCain would have won, Palin would never have become PotUS (which history shows us at this point is true, because John McCain is currently still alive). That’s one of the feelings that I missed from the presentation. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film, but I noticed that it felt different while I was rooting for Ed Harris to become President, even though I already knew the ending to the story.

Julianne Moore was *FANTASTIC* as Palin. Seriously. Excellent job, from the look to the facial expressions to the speech patterns to the accent. Great! 😀

The only thing that broke my immersion of “Moore = Palin” is that they have slightly different body types, with Palin having more bounce to the ounce.

I’m not going to be able to explain to the ladies reading this what difference that makes, but it definitely makes a “That’s not actually Palin” difference. >:D

The other thing that broke my immersion (although I’m sure this was a deliberate scripting and acting decision and not a deficiency), is that when I’m listening to Palin speak, the real one, I can tell that she’s deliberately stacking up comments that bolster the point she’s trying to make, or the opinion she wants people listening to her to have, whether her statements are true or not.

I didn’t get that from Moore’s performance. She didn’t deliver that “I drank Jim Jones’ Flavor Aid” look that you can see ‘behind’ people’s eyes when they’re not honestly interacting with you, but they’re deliberately trying to influence you and they know it.

For the ladies out there, that’s the look you see when you already drove by your man’s car at the strip joint parking lot and then, when he gets home, he tries to sell you that he was working late tonight. It’s a look that’s derived from thinking in the background while you serve your agenda to people. It’s like they’re not really there, but following a script.

Anyway, I didn’t get that from Moore’s performance, which caused the Palin character to be way more endearing. “Game Change” was more of a “fish out of water” story than a “deliberate manipulation of the uneducated masses” story.

Woody Harrelson was really good as well. Really good. 🙂 The only thing that broke my immersion with his performance is that I’ve seen that guy Steve Schmidt that he was playing on television a bunch of times, and Woody would have had to put on a BUNCH more pounds to physically resemble that guy, other than the baldie haircut, which was accurate.

Out of the three main actors, the one that skewed the story for me the most was Ed Harris, because he didn’t look anywhere near 72 years old, and he didn’t look like he was about to keel over any second.

Part of the whole problem in the actual 2008 campaign was that nobody was sure that McCain was going to live through his entire term, meaning that a vote for him was an inadvertent vote for Palin as President, which would have meant that *SHE* could have been the one in charge of our current foreign affairs situation.

YouTube Link => youtu.be/28z5aTiN4UI

So, in “Game Change”, I wasn’t concerned about Harris’ health, so I was able to relax and not feel paranoid about what could have happened if the Republicans had won. That was decidedly *NOT* the case during the real election.

Also, the way Moore portrayed her character, she made Palin seem like way less of a loose cannon than she appeared to be during the incessant “liberal media” coverage of her statements, decisions, and actions during the real election.

This combination allowed me to actually root for McCain and Palin to be elected while I was watching the film. 🙂

I knew the entire time that Jude Law was going to vanquish Ed Harris in “Enemy At The Gates”, but I was still rooting for Ed when Jude had already gotten the drop on him. There’s an integrity that Harris beings to his characters, where regardless of what you think about them as people, you still have to respect them.

Continued in “Game Change” Review [Part 02 of 02]

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