‘Game Change’ Preview: McCain/Palin Campaign Was One of ‘Dysfunction’

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HBO is gearing up for the premiere of its movie “Game Change,” which debuts on Saturday night at 9 pm Eastern, and they’ve released trailers where they talk to the authors of the original book, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, as well as other Washington journalists, about the impact of the book.

In addition, screenwriter Danny Strong, director Jay Roach and producer Gary Goetzman explain why, out of a book that encompasses the entire scope of the 2008 presidential campaign, why they chose to concentrate on the story of the John McCain campaign right before they select Sarah Palin to run for vice president.

Well, anyone who saw Palin during the campaign knows that she was a compelling story, but everyone involved wanted to show the inside machinations and the “dysfunction,” as one reporter called it, that was behind all of what we saw in public.

Both videos show glimpses of what makes this movie one that will be hard to beat come awards time, especially Julianne Moore‘s expert portrayal of Palin, who deals with the enormity of the campaign alternately by letting the attention go to her head and by going into near-catatonic states of depression and self-doubt.

The videos also show Ed Harris, who does an excellent job portraying McCain as a guy who badly wants to win but also wants to run a campaign the right way. The intensity of the campaign is conveyed via Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of McCain campaign chief Steve Schmidt, especially in scenes where his patience with Palin has worn thin.

And, while Palin and her allies are denouncing the movie even though they haven’t seen it, it’s still a fascinating watch, especially after you learn how many insider interviews that Halperin and Heilemann did, and the supporting interviews Strong did on top of that. It does hit the “Palin was in over her head” angle a bit too hard at times, but it gives viewers a look into a process they rarely get to see.

Below, Harris, Moore and Harrelson talk about the challenges inherent in playing living people who (at least in the cases of McCain and Palin) are very familiar to Americans.

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