Review: HBO’s Game Change is like Days of our Lives for Republicans
By Jason Apuzzo. It used to be that a politician had to be a Kennedy to get a juicy, tell-all movie made about them.
On the odd chance that you can’t get enough of this year’s colorful Republican primaries – if lurid accusations of Newt Gingrich’s ‘open marriage’ or saucy rumors of Herman Cain’s romantic conquests haven’t been enough for you – or if you think all the pizazz went out of the campaign once Michelle Bachman left the race (can anyone else say “Obama is a socialist” with such a winning smile?), then HBO’s frothy Game Change, which debuts this Saturday March 10th, may be the remedy for you.
Game Change is pure political soap opera, and in fleeting moments it even makes for compelling drama – though to be fair, Game Change is probably not an accurate view into the behind-the-scenes dynamics of the 2008 McCain campaign, or into the personality of its megawatt star, Sarah Palin.
What the movie is, however, is a gossipy and occasionally colorful look at how much changed – at least in the world of Republican politics – when John McCain made the decision to select Sarah Palin as his running mate for the 2008 election.
And as the roiling 2012 campaign continues to make clear: a lot changed from that point forward.
There was an era, seemingly a lifetime ago, when the Republican Party appeared to be the quieter, more straight-laced of the two parties. Most people over 30 remember what that was like, back before Republican officeholders were expected to be celebrities.
Traditional Republican candidates were war veterans and businessmen, successful lawyers, sober Congressmen with dark suits and smiling families, genial chairmen of the local chamber of commerce. Think Mitch Daniels crossed with Phil Mickelson.
They were the type of person you’d want to buy real estate or aftershave from, or to lead your nephew into combat – but not necessarily build a Broadway show or rock opera around.
That, of course, was before the Palins came to town.
Game Change is HBO’s adaptation of the book of the same name about the 2008 Presidential election, penned by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Crucially, that book depicted both sides of the 2008 campaign – dwelling mostly on the epic Democratic Party primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, something left out completely from HBO’s movie.