'Game Change' Almost Makes Us Feel Sorry for Sarah Palin

Will the film version of Sarah Palin's VP bid mean the end of her political career, or is it just the beginning?

The HBO movie Game Change, which premieres on Saturday night, isn't going to alter much about what pops into your head when someone says "Sarah Palin." If you're a mama grizzly, you're going to love this portrayal of her as a tough-minded politico who can bring home the political bacon and fry it up in a pan. If you're not a fan of her views or her Alaskan twang, there isn't much in this film to make you re-think.

The movie, which is based, in part, on the non-fiction book of the same name, follows the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain and the impact that choosing Palin as his running mate had on the inner workings of his bid for the White House. With the race faltering, the movie highlights a crew willing to gamble big on a virtual political unknown, but who are so overwhelmed when that gamble fails, they blame it all on the very woman who was supposed to be their political savior.

I almost felt sorry for Palin as I watched Game Change, which felt more like a mocking collection of anti-Palin greatest hits (the Katie Couric "gotcha" interview, Tina Fey's dead on impression and "I can see Russia from my house"), than a critical look at what happened to a campaign that thought picking any woman would be enough to put them in power. Politically, I'm no fan of Palin, but it made me cringe to see her portrayed, yet again, as not much more than a temperamental hockey mom from Wasilla.

As for Julianne Moore, who was tapped to portray Palin, the hours of listening to Palin's speeches on her iPod clearly paid off -- she looks and sounds so much like the original mama grizzly that I found myself forgetting that it wasn't actually Palin! I just hope Moore is able to lose the Palin-esque style in time for her next role.

As another writer notes, the film oversimplifies Palin as an "overwhelmed working mother" whose major crisis in the campaign is about her diet. Yes, she was out of her depth, but would any author or filmmaker trivialize a male politician in the way both the book and movie have done? 

To ask the question is to answer it.

Game Change lays the blame for McCain's loss squarely at Palin's feet, giving a pass to McCain himself, as well as the campaign insiders who claimed to be shocked and mortified that Palin wasn't prepared for the national stage, even though a quick Google search could have told them what they needed to know. 

As political history, neither the book nor the movie is going to tell anyone who knows the story of Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race something they don't already know. Game Change is something of a sour grapes portrait of a failed campaign, which was a disappointment for a political junkie like me. But if you love Julianne Moore, the movie is a must-see just for her turn as Palin, the woman who wasn't afraid to take on the biggest challenge of her life.

Watch the trailer below:

You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.

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