GAME CHANGE

Shallow as the ice in a hockey arena, HBO’s sinfully entertaining
docudrama does little more than skate through the high points of John
Heilemann and Mark Helperin’s best seller in an efficient, check-it-
off-the-list manner. It’s like The 2008 Campaign for Dummies. But
depth isn’t the point here; the performances are, and they’re a mixed
bag. Is there anyone who doesn’t like Woody Harrelson? Actually,
that’s a problem. If I were Steve Schmidt, I’d be thrilled with the
choice to play me — because Woody’s likeableness gives his portrayal
of the McCain campaign advisor a softer side than we got from the book
and from how he came off in the media: notoriously sharp-elbowed,
given the politics-ain’t-beanbag high stakes. Still, Harrelson’s is a
confident turn that anchors the screenplay. Less successful is Ed
Harris as McCain. The actor is lithe and energetic whereas the Senator
is filled-out and aging, but it’s more than that: the character is
underwritten, so McCain ends up seeming more empty-headed and
manipulable than I suspect the son of a bitch really is. Ultimately,
though, the CHANGE we can believe in lies inside the great Julianne
Moore. She has no trouble finding the ridiculous in Sarah Palin;
that’s the easy part. What she also shows us is Sarah fooling herself,
talking herself into thinking she is up for the job — then spiraling
downward as reality bites. A standout performance in a piece that
earns its full two hours. — Jeff Schultz

If you want to relive the disastrous GOP presidential campaign from 2008, then GAME CHANGE is perfect for you. I’m not going to rehash what happened, we all know it was the election that catapulted two people to political stardom.. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. This movie is about the performances. The best being Woody Harrelson as McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt. Also props to Julianne Moore who captures Palin’s “Palin-ness” perfectly. If you expect to watch this and gloat over Palin’s stupidity and absurdness, you may be disappointed. Palin comes off not so much as a buffoon, but as kind of a tragic figure who is obviously way out of her depth. The real Sarah Palin is much funnier in her outrageousness. The film is acceptably interesting, It’s more of an indictment of how McCain’s campaign advisors set him up for failure. The book was far more insightful and interesting than this movie. GAME CHANGE falls short of other HBO political movies such as THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP. But it is worth seeing for Harrelson and Moore. — Alan Yudman

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