Around these parts we have to wait for the free HBO weekend to catch Game Change, so my apologies for the fact that this is not exactly timely. Game Change, though it gathered mostly positive reviews, is not without flaws.
First the positives. Most notably, Julianne Moore is fantastic as Vice Presidential hopeful/media whore Sarah Palin. Much has been publicized about how Moore learned Palin's speech patterns and Alaskan drawl, but it is what Moore does when she is not speaking that is more profound. She manages to make Palin more than just the SNL caricature that we all know and love.
Woody Harrelson is a joy to watch as campaign adviser Steve Schmidt. It is Schmidt who suggests Palin as the game changing running mate to counter the immense popularity of Barack Obama. Harrelson masterfully displays Schmidt's realization of the error in his suggestion and his stubborn determination to make her work.
And yet Game Change lacks a clear vision of how to portray Palin. Throughout the course of the film, Palin transitions from a sympathetic character who is a small fish in a big pond to a woman under such pressure that she is on the verge of a breakdown to a ruthless individual out for her own celebrity. The one consistent message about Palin that runs through the film is that she lacks very basic knowledge of the world around her. The difficulty that the filmmakers faced was, of course, that we will never know the real Sarah Palin and crafting a consistent portrayal of her was a clearly a challenge.
Game Change is worth a watch on a free HBO weekend, and even if you pay for HBO, I would still recommend it. On a side note, the free HBO weekend has also allowed me to confirm that Sex and the City 2 is actually worse than the critics had let on.