Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Game Change

The film opens on Anderson Cooper asking Steve Schmidt, lead campaign strategist for the 2008 McCain campaign, if he felt selecting Sarah Palin as a running mate cost them the election. Before answering and following an awkward pause, the film flashes back to the heart of that campaign, when a wild card was needed to counter Obama's popularity, and the governor of Alaska seemed like a longshot but a possibility to put McCain over the edge. Watching Jay Roach's "Game Change". with its imitations of well-known figures and constant barrage of news footage, is more like watching the 2008 election again on CNN rather than regarding a fully fleshed out film. Naturally expecting a caustic assault on the Republican campaign, I was surprised how genial the film is towards McCain and his campaign members and how scathing they are towards Palin, painting her as a single minded monster. As the VP nominee, Julianne Moore is successful in recreating look, manner, and speech, but not so in developing a character. Ed Harris is closer to the mark in his portrayal of John McCain, focusing more on characterization and less on look and appearance. Woody Harrelson is also on point as Schmidt, and delivers a few good speeches also. Like Roach's "Recount", another HBO film depicting recent historical events, "Game Change" is overly simplistic, fires at easy targets, and tells us things we already know.