‘Game Change’ debuts Saturday, draws criticism from Palin, McCain

March 9, 2012

HBO’s much anticipated movie adaptation of “Game Change,” the best-selling book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 presidential election, airs Saturday night. The film has drawn criticism from two of the major characters, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Arizona Sen. John McCain, played by Julianne Moore and Ed Harris respectively.

McCain reiterated his position on the movie on “The Tonight Show” last week, says Emily Yahr of The TV Column:

“No,” McCain assured him. “I heard enough about the book that it’s taken from — unattributed quotes, unnamed sources. But it’s a free country.”

Palin has taken her dismay with the film further, however. Her political action committee, SarahPAC, has been working to discredit the movie, which it says is based on inaccuracies, according to Rachel Weiner of The Fix:

Now SarahPAC is out with its own trailer rebutting the film, “Game Change We Can Believe In,” saying the film “presents a history that never happened.”

Palin’s version uses clips from her 2008 convention speech along with praise from members of McCain’s team to argue that she gave the campaign a much-needed boost. In an e-mail promoting the video, her team urges HBO to label the film “fiction.”

With so many of Palin’s former aides publicly speaking out against “Game Change,” Suzi Parker of She The People questioned whether Palin was purposefully keeping herself in the spotlight:

She certainly didn’t ignore Tina Fey, the Hollywood comedian, writer and actress who parodied Palin in 2008 on “Saturday Night Live.” Palin couldn’t resist an invitation to appear in an “SNL” skit with Fey and the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, during the 2008 campaign.

Despite what strikes me as the faux outrage of her former aides, I suspect she likes prolonging her time in the public eye. She has risen to the level of diva now, and those supernovas continually crave attention, good or bad.

But Washington Post critic Hank Steuver said the film could have been much worse as far as its portrayal of Palin goes. In his review, Steuver says “Game Change” humanizes her:

What if I told you that “Game Change,” the acrimoniously anticipated HBO movie airing Saturday night, might make you feel sorry for Sarah Palin?

Weird, right? The movie seems to want you to realize that there’s a human being there, someone who could use a break from the scorn and expectation heaped upon her. In fact, all the major players in “Game Change” could have done a lot worse when it comes to being depicted by Hollywood: Sen. John McCain; his 2008 campaign staff; the election industry; the voracious media; the Palin clan. Nobody comes off looking so great, but there are also no real monsters. (Monstrous behavior, sure.)

More on this story:

Review: HBO’s ‘Game Change’

Julianne Moore talks Sarah Palin with Jon Stewart

Sen. McCain says he will not watch ‘Game Change’

Palin staff lash out over HBO movie

She the People: Palin trashes ‘Game Change’ to stay in the game

VIDEO: Full ‘Game Change’ trailer

PHOTOS: Female leaders in TV and film

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