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Game Change (2012)

TV Movie  |  TV-MA  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  10 March 2012 (USA)
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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?


The real Steve Schmidt called the film's portrayal of him, and the events surrounding Palin's nomination and candidacy as accurate. 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 »


John McCain: And they said we were dead. Next stop the White House!
See more »


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


May God Bless America
Written by Bobby Bare and Boyce Hawkins
Performed by Loretta Lynn
Courtesy of MCA Nashville
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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Who lies in and around the White House?
14 August 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Game Change does what I thought was almost impossible and that is to humanize politicians and make them recognizable enough to be even relatable to an audience. The only way this could've been done is if the writer and director behind the film made the story more accessible and detailed on an emotional level rather than a plot level, and this is exactly what the film does. It puts character in the foreground, rather than primaries, debates, and, finally, the election. It examines the people who participate in those events and doesn't try to take the route of humanizing the actual event while almost completely ignoring those involved with it.

Director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong (the same two who made the HBO film Recount - still unseen by me - which dealt with the Gore and Bush election), Game Change deals with the Obama-McCain election of 2008, the most historic election in history. We all know what happened

  • Barack Obama was elected and became the first African American man

ever to hold office - but I'm positive not many know the interworkings and the drama that unfolded. The film focuses on McCain's campaign, starting with their search for a competent vice president who can drum up support for the slumping support of women and also invigorate the press with the same kind of "movie star charisma" as Barack Obama seems to do during his speeches.

The McCain campaign settles on the Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, a fearless woman whose heart always seems to be in the right place and whose mindset is always devoted to bettering the lives of her children and husband. When appointed by Steve Schmidt, a wise Republican strategist, their ultimate goal for her is to fuel the slumping McCain polls with life and support. Her first speech, at the Republican National Convention, is where they feel that they've got the next revolutionary woman on their hands. Palin powerfully connects with the audience on a deep, intimate level, sharing stories of humanism and relatable qualities that get the crowd riled up. However, as she begins to be interviewed by news stations, that want her opinion on foreign issues, domestic problems, and serious events burdening America, Palin stutters with uncertainty.

And thus Game Change depicts how Palin was a great politician in terms of being able to connect with the people and not alienate them, but show that she was unqualified in regards to her lack of knowledge on world issues. Julianne Moore boldly plays Palin, who is seen as energetic and unmatched in her power in some scenes, and in others, shy, deeply frazzled, and questionably mentally unstable, Mark Wallace states. Moore's role is the toughest of the crowd because she must get the audience to sympathize with a woman who a good majority of the American public doesn't think so highly of. As someone who very skeptical of Palin's leadership abilities and knowledge of the current world, the film made me see a deeper, more presentable light to the woman, and I see it being this way for many other viewers of the film.

Ed Harris takes the role of McCain, who we see is largely uninvolved with trying to get Palin on-par with current world issues and making sure she's vice-presidential material. McCain is portrayed as a smart, vulgar, and often unsettled man, who continues fighting with the feelings of personal inferiority and restless attitudes. Finally, there is Steve Schmidt, portrayed by Woody Harrelson in a role almost built for him. Harrelson is known for his tough-guy-with-a-heart roles and uncompromising attitude in his films. Here, he portrays Schmidt, whose significance in the 2008 election I believe has gone unnoticed, with energy and passion, shown explicitly in scenes when he has had enough with Palin's ignorance or her lack of cooperation.

Besides the humanization of political candidates, which I stated before was inherently tough and rarely pulled off to great effect, the levels of tension and unsettling urgency during times of the debates and the election are shockingly potent. During these scenes, we usually cut between the live debate and the reaction of McCain's campaign crew, whose reactions I often replicated while watching the film. It's surprising to note that the tension I felt in Game Change was more evident than tension I experience in half the horror films released this or any other year.

Game Change is a strong picture for its humanization of political figures, its tense, unnerving depiction of events that are usually regarded as perfunctory and boring in American politics, and the fact that it features a trio of solid performances that work to make both these achievements evident. By the end of the film, I felt sympathy for Sarah Palin and emerged with more practical knowledge on the weight politicians need to bear during heated campaigns. When a film does things right, credit must be awarded; when a film does things that surprise you and strongly affect your thinking, it must be commended.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, and Woody Harrelson. Directed by: Jay Roach.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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