'Game Change' -- HBO film looks at drama inside 2008 McCain campaign

TV review
March 4, 2012 12:00 am
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There's no getting around politics in "Game Change," HBO's jaw-dropping TV movie depicting the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, played by Ed Harris, who perfectly apes McCain's stiffness, if not his voice quality.

But the film really stars Julianne Moore as Gov. Sarah Palin. Ms. Moore's take on Gov. Palin is no jokey Tina Fey spoof; rather, she almost becomes the former Alaska governor in an imitation of her vocal inflections and mannerisms that are shocking in their accuracy. Swaddle an Emmy statue in bubble wrap and send it to her now because Ms. Moore is a shoe-in for the best actress in a movie/miniseries award.

'Game Change'

When: 9 p.m. Saturday, HBO

Starring: Ed Harris and Julianne Moore

Made by the same writer/director team of Danny Strong and Jay Roach responsible for the 2008 HBO film "Recount," about the 2000 election, "Game Change" (9 p.m. Saturday) is another process picture. It's all about how campaigns happen, pulling back the curtain to show maneuvers employed to win voters' hearts. (Appeals to the mind are in short supply).

If the film tells us anything about electoral politics, it's that political campaigns consist primarily of playing on voters' emotions, and in this particular case that ranges from patriotism to fear. The film's campaign staffers faithfully execute the candidates' campaign strategy, unconcerned with the wisdom of the underlying policy values.

McCain senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) frequently plays the old "blame the liberal media" card in TV interviews about Palin's preparedness, but behind closed doors he and other members of the McCain team fully acknowledge that she's out of her depth. Palin mistakenly thinks America invaded Iraq because "Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11." She's also confused about why there are two Koreas.


First Published 2012-03-03 23:07:03

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