Game Change (2012)

TV Movie  |  TV-MA  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  10 March 2012 (USA)
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Reviews: 96 user | 69 critic

Follows John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate to their ultimate defeat in the general election.



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Won 3 Golden Globes. Another 23 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Wallace
David Barry Gray ...
Chris Edwards
Bexie Nobles
Tucker Eskew
Fred Davis
Randy Scheunemann
A.B. Culvahouse


Summer, 2008: John McCain secures the nomination, but polls behind Barack Obama. Strategist Steve Schmidt suggests a game changer: picking a conservative female with media savvy, unknown Alaska governor Sarah Palin, as vice president. She's an immediate hit and a quick study - the gap closes. Then, Tina Fey's impersonation, a raft of criticism, and missing her family send Palin into a near-catatonic state: she doesn't prepare for her Katie Couric interview and bombs. Schmidt searches for an answer: don't expect her to learn the issues, but give her a script. Palin does well in the debate with Biden; she finds her voice, goes off script, and goes rogue. A mistake? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Politics would never be the same.


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Release Date:

10 March 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Changement de cap  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Woody Harrelson previously had a cameo in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, also directed by Jay Roach. See more »


In a bedroom scene, Julianne Moore's Sarah Palin is wearing the third jersey of the National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche. This jersey was officially announced more than a year later on November 12, 2009 making it an anachronism for her character to be wearing it in 2008 during the Presidential campaign. See more »


Anderson Cooper: If you had to do it over again, would you have her on the ticket?
Steve Schmidt: You don't get to go back in time, Anderson and have do-overs in life.
See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #19.113 (2011) See more »


NBC Nightly News Theme
Written by John Williams
Courtesy of NBC Studios
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User Reviews

The critics are wrong; this is a must see for political junkies.
2 December 2012 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

It's 2008; near the end of the Presidential Campaign between John McCain and then candidate Barack Obama. McCain is trailing in the polls and his campaign realizes he has to do something to energize his base and turn the election in his favour. He makes a decision that would not only have significant impact on the race, but the entire Republican party and ultimately define his political career.

First off the casting is excellent; both Julianne Moore and Ed Harris are perfectly cast and they deliver uncanny performances of Sarah Palin and John McCain. I found at times I got lost in the characters and forgot I was watching actors act; they were THAT good (this is really rare for me). Julianne Moore is very deserving of all the buzz she's been getting and I'm disappointed Ed Harris hasn't quite got as much publicity; his John McCain was not that far behind Moore's Palin (but make no mistake, Moore is the star here).

I loved the editing of the film as they fused together actual footage from the campaign trail and with scenes recreated in the film to great effect. I also found that the film shed some light on aspects of the campaign I didn't really think about; i.e. the other side of Sarah Palin. She was clearly someone who was just thrust into spotlight and was clearly not ready for the big stage. Moore really humanized her and did something that nothing else did that entire election cycle; not the media nor the politicos: it made me feel sorry for Sarah Palin (I have to say, I wasn't expecting that, not at all). There's quite a few laughs as well in the movie; including moments from hilarious foreign policy coaching sessions to the now infamous interview with Katie Couric when she essentially says "I can see Russia from my house" and couldn't name news papers she reads.

Now the movie isn't perfect. The film is a bit late in terms of release and I can't help but think that had a bit to do with some the negative reviews; for those outside the political bubble, the film may have lost a bit of it's punch almost 4 years after the fact. For me however, a political junkie, the film was still quite poignant. You could also argue the film has an agenda; i.e. to paint Palin as someone who cared more about how she looked and her own career more than John McCain's campaign, not very intelligent and reckless as she was derailing his campaign by "going rogue" (going off message) near the end. Although I personally believe all these to be true, the film does try to lead the viewer at times to that conclusion and I would've preferred if it was a bit more unbiased and allowed the viewer to form their own opinion.

At the end of the day I think the film successfully presented the theme of being honest with one's self; that when it comes to getting ahead in life, you need to be true to yourself and your values. The movie conveyed this through the characters around Palin in moments of reflection. In the film (and in real life) John McCain wasn't true to himself and it cost him the election (and maybe a bit of his soul too). At the end you could see he had begun to realize that; there's a great scene where John is at a town hall and an audience member says that "Obama is a Muslim" and he quickly stopped the audience member, corrected her and stated that it was not true and he didn't believe that. In that moment it was clear he realized he had gone astray as his campaign was now solely relying on really low brow tactics to try to save the election. It was as significant a moment in the film as it was in the real campaign.

I'm left with a really interesting moment from the film, where one of McCain's Republican advisers confesses that she didn't vote (which has to be nothing short of treason when you work for a campaign):

"I didn't vote... I couldn't do it... I didn't vote." (She starts to cry and moves to be hugged by Woody Harrelson's character (Steve)... "I couldn't do it.".

I can't help but think a lot of Americans had to feel exactly the same way in 2008. That single moment says everything you need to know about Sarah Palin and the 2008 Presidential Election. Kudos to a well made film.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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