Instead, the film’s most scathing indictment is a symbolic one: It attacks our mutual inability to communicate.
How on Earth, in a nation so technologically gifted and an age so flush with instant information, can we remain so woefully uninformed, willfully dissonant and bad at knowing one another? How could everyone in a presidential campaign manage to believe that somebody else had vetted the Alaska governor for the GOP presidential ticket? How can someone aspire to being a heartbeat away from the Oval Office without a firm grasp of basic history and current events? How did magical thinking become our default setting?
Much of what goes on in “Game Change” may in fact echo your workplace, where memos go unread and e-mails unresponded to; where the flashiest talkers get promoted too soon; where difficult questions are merely unwelcome interruptions to the PowerPoint presentation; where no one has a clue but everyone is engaged in operatic levels of self-preservation while constantly monitoring their BlackBerrys. (Yes, it was still mostly BlackBerrys then.)
There’s plenty more to say about “Game Change,” an adaptation of some of the juiciest chapters from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s behind-the-scenes bestseller about the uglier and more desperate moments of the ’08 election.
But to do that, I regrettably must stop to wriggle into my hazmat suit.
TV reviews, you see, are now considered another toxic byproduct of the culture wars. There is nothing I can say about “Game Change” — good, bad or indifferent — that won’t be taken the wrong way by somebody.
Nevertheless, it’s a good movie. (Wince, duck.) It’s a lot better than the network’s numbingly rote “Too Big to Fail” last year and almost as good as the memorably gripping “Recount,” the 2008 HBO movie about the forever-disputed outcome of the 2000 election.
“Recount” was conceived by the same guys who have made “Game Change” (director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong). The two films could easily stand as a matched set of quasi-historical depictions of our dirty, early-21st-century politics. “Recount” succeeded, in part, because it had an eight-year buffer zone from the events it depicted. “Game Change” comes too soon and too raw, smack in the middle of another ugly political season.
To answer the question everyone wants to know about “Game Change”: It takes no more than 40 seconds to accustom yourself to Julianne Moore’s eerily perfect take on Palin. Despite initial misgivings when the first photos came out of Moore done up in Palin’s hairdo and trademark specs (pictures that for some reason conjured unfortunate reminders of Moore doing a bad Boston accent on “30 Rock”), “Game Change” ranks among her finest performances. (Flinch, swerve.)