Reviews of the HBO film Game Change have tended to fall along partisan lines, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin calling it “Hollywood’s lies” and 2008 GOP nominee John McCain saying it will be a cold day in Gila Bend, Ariz. before he watches it.
Authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman defended the film Friday afternoon at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., saying that it factually captures Palin and McCain as human beings thrust into the historic 2008 race against Barack Obama.
But a clip of the film shown during the 45-minute discussion of Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Palin seemed almost cartoonish and exaggerated, and failed to capture the former governor’s natural charisma.
Halperin and Heileman wrote the book, upon which the film is based, with a screenplay in mind after entering into discussions with HBO.
Washington Post film critic Hank Steuver observed, “If thorough balance were really the name of the game here, then HBO could have made Game Change into a miniseries, of which Palin’s travails would have been but one night’s episode.”
Steuver echoed comments made by Byron York in our sister publication, The Washington Examiner, last month, “Why did Hollywood focus on only one-half of Game Change? The other half would have made a great movie.
It was certainly the most compelling part of the book, with no end of dramatic moments. The Clinton-Obama version of Game Change could have focused on the racially charged effort among Democrats to stop the first black man with a serious chance of winning their party’s presidential nomination.
The alternate Game Change could have featured the spectacle of Bill Clinton, the nation’s “first black President,” doing everything he could, risking his own reputation and place in history, to stop an actual black man from winning the office.
But Halperin and Heileman defended the decision to only focus on the Palin Vice Presidential nomination because there was only so much that could be crammed from a two-year presidential campaign into two hours.
The men said they and director Jay Roach were fascinated with Palin’s story as a young mother of five, with 18 months in office as governor of Alaska, who suddenly found herself thrust onto the national stage.
Some critics have suggested the trailer portrayed Palin as overly ambitious and obsessed with her image in Alaska.
Moore told CBS that the film’s producers elicited her team’s participation to no avail and that everything in the film had been properly sourced.
Halperin and Heileman say a sequel about the current presidential race is in the works.
Watch a showing of the movie on HBO this weekend, the first one airs at 9pm tonight and again at Midnight, and let us know what you think in the comments section.