Game Change: A Review

I was very intrigued by this movie when it was initially released because of all the controversy surrounding it, mainly Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s strong opposition to it. I read somewhere that Palin didn’t like how she was portrayed in the movie that gives viewers a peek behind in the scenes at the 2010 Republican campaign trail, and how the promising start crumbled to dust towards the finish line. I finally caught a rerun on cable and am now able to get my two cents in. The HBO movie was based on the book of the same name written by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

The story focuses on the campaign of Senator John McCain (Ed Harris) in the 2010 US presidential elections and how his political strategists led by Steve Schmidt (Woddy Harrelson), sought for a way to counter the superstar campaign of now President Barrack Obama. In their search for a game changer, the team picks out the name of Governor Palin (Julianne Moore) from a roster of possible running mates for the Arizona senator. However, as the initial blush of the campaign wears off, the team realizes that it takes more than charisma to convince the people that Palin has what it takes to go to Washington, DC.

I actually don’t get why Sarah Palin was throwing a fit over the movie because I found it quite interesting. Sure, it showed her as an ill prepared candidate for the big leagues but she didn’t strike me as stupid, as what some people would think when they see her grasping at straws during interviews about policies. Actually, I was very sympathetic for her because she was not fully briefed about what she was getting into and had no time to brush up on the things that would make her a prime candidate. The fault laid mainly on the strategists because they didn’t look beyond the surface and haphazardly chose Sarah over other more qualified candidates who had less of a pull than the Alaskan governor. On the other hand, I do get what prompted them to choose Sarah. Still, I have to give credit to Steve’s character for his quick thinking and his devotion to Senator McCain. I actually wanted him to win in 2010 because of his strong platform and experience in steering America and the movie just strengthened my resolve and gave me a fresh perspective on the man and his principles.

I guess what’s great about the movie is that it presented the campaign as it was. The successes, the failures. This made people understand what motivated the key players of the campaign to do the things they did and act the way they did. The movie made them human in the eyes of the audiences. Also, the film does not cast judgement on the characters but rather provides audiences with the information to weigh in on the events for themselves, which is a rare opportunity.

I think that Game Change is a very compelling look at politics and the different facets of leadership that one has to develop before going to the White House. I believe that Game Change did not put Palin in a bad light but rather highlighted her different skills — she was an administrator who solely focused on the local issues, which was well and good for being governor, but this may not have worked in the national scale when more awareness about the world was needed. And that was completely okay had she not been roped into running for vice president. The movie just showed how she got drowned by her sudden rise to stardom and the subsequent analysis of her personal life that went with it. I think at the end of the day, it all boiled down to one bad call. One major bad call. Had the team had more time to work with Sarah and groom her, she would’ve been a complete game changer, but as it so happened, it all happened to quickly.

All in all, it was a great movie that got me hooked from the first minute. Great cast, and great attention to details. It totally got me interested in reading the actual book. Kudos to the main (and supporting) cast for their excellent portrayal and filmmaker Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong for bringing the campaign to the screen. A total must watch.