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"Still think she's fit for office?" "Who cares? In 48 hours no one will even remember who she is...."
HBO /118 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: January 8, 2013
Politics junkies will likely flock to its arrival on Blu-ray like moths to a flame, but one leaves the sordid campaign trails of Game Change wondering what the point is. Sold as a behind-the-curtain expose of the McCain/Palin side of the 2008 juggernaut to the White House, this made-for-HBO saga feels like a warmed-over retread from the get-go.
The main reason for this - which remains philosophically fascinating, even though Game Change falters as a compelling narrative - is that for those of us who would wake up every morning and scour news sites, clamoring for up-to-date information on the struggle for presidential power at the time, there's very little here that we aren't already aware of. Director Jay Roach apparently wants to stay true to Mark Halperin's and John Heilemann's book in terms of keeping his storytelling at least marginally based in journalistic fact, but in doing so, the thing feels like a CNN special, only with a particularly large casting budget.
Game Change is unapologetically liberal as a film - it doesn't necessarily lampoon Palin (Julianne Moore) and McCain (Ed Harris) as much as it damns them for being such mediocre candidates. But Game Change ends up being neither rampant blue propaganda nor vacuous right claptrap: it refuses to get into the heads of these characters, and the end result is the cinematic equivalent of a flat tire. The film's title has the air of glacial import, but the movie itself is little more than an exercise in mediocrity.