Part of the talk that Sarah Palin is planning to relaunch and may jump into the 2012 Republican nomination race stems from the fact that a new film about her is about to be released — a film that some suggested will reframe perceptions about Palin, her sting as Alaska Governor before she resigned, her running as Sen. John McCain’s 2008 Presidential candidate, and her impact on the political party. But the New York Post’s Kyle Smith has seen the film and said it will be no political panacea.
In an article titled “Palin 2.0A confusing biopic and bus tour won’t revive her fortunes,” he writes:
[Writer-director Stephen] Bannon promised the blog Big Hollywood, “This will go off like an atomic bomb” in the Republican primary season. Palin herself, Bannon says, gave the movie a big thumbs-up, though she didn’t participate in the making of the $1 million film. She appears in it only in news clips and is heard in audiobook clips from her memoir “Going Rogue.”
….“The Undefeated,” far from shaking up the race, is just a fan film from an outsider hitching a ride on her fame, hoping that attention from political reporters in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will provide a springboard for a national release.
This would-be “Fairbanks 9/11” certainly blazes with passion — hosannas of awe for Palin, brimstone of scorn for her detractors (especially Matt Damon, standup comics and anonymous commenters who say mean things on blogs).
But its tone is an excruciating combination of bombast and whining, it’s so outlandishly partisan that it makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln and its febrile rush of images — not excluding earthquakes, car wrecks, volcanic eruption and attacking Rottweilers — reminded me of the brainwash movie Alex is forced to sit through in “A Clockwork Orange.” Except no one came along to refresh my pupils with eyedrops.
I’d sooner have watched a Michael Moore movie….
So is this really the “secret weapon” some analysts suggested Palin has to rock the political world and usher in a clamor by GOPers everywhere to give her the nomination?
Even if you fixed the blaring soundtrack and took out all the symbols of the cataclysmic evil opposing Palin (barking dogs, disaster footage, a closeup of Rosie O’Donnell), you’d still be left with a hopeless sputtering jumble.
The busted logic and narrative chop of “The Undefeated” don’t suggest the phrase, “spirited new defense of Palin.” They say, “cyclone landed here.”
News clips of Palin’s tenure in Alaska as mayor of Wasilla, chair of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and governor are narrated solely by friends and allies. They keep telling us that she (a) adhered strictly to small-government, free-market conservative principles yet (b) used the full power of government to make people’s lives more splendid….
He gives some details and then adds:
In one scene, we’re told she didn’t care about polls; in the next, she’s bragging about her approval rating (88%). She says she doesn’t put much stock in such surveys — yet “I figured my administration must be doing something right.” So does her recent approval rating of 28% tell her that she must be doing something wrong?
If some will dismiss Smith’s piece as just coming from the “liberal media,” it’ll be a tad hard to do: he writes for a paper owned by Fox News maven Rupert Murdoch.
The key problem with a film turning around a political career is this:
For it to be effective it has to be something that would be what Palin has neglected and seemingly refused to do so far: something that sought to bring in others who do not yet agree with her or like her. Ever since McCain and Palin were defeated in 2008 her need has been to expand her constituency but she has not done so.
This film sounds like a valentine delivered four months too late.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
But a valentine a secret weapon does not make..
UPDATE: The Hill on the new movie:
The film, which is divided into three acts, shifts the narrative surrounding Palin away from some of the more controversial episodes from her political career: her questions about President Obama’s birth certificate, the so-called “Troopergate” scandal and her use of the term “blood libel” during the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.
Instead, it builds a positive story arc of Palin’s life in the public eye.
An outsider, Palin climbs up Alaska’s political ranks and along the way evolves into tough “Mama Grizzly” willing to fight for her beliefs, according to the film. The word “courage” is frequently used to describe her willingness to shake up the status quo; whether Palin is taking on corrupt oil executives and politicians, liberals, the media and the elites within her own party.
Conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, who created the film, provided private screenings for reporters last week at a small studio in Arlington, Va., just outside the nation’s capital.
Sensing Palin’s lightning-rod image, Bannon said he anticipates “The Undefeated” will be, the “most controversial film of the year.”
…..The film seemed to have an endless supply of anecdotes to paint a positive picture of the former governor’s rise.
Palin’s allies blame the attacks on a top-down effort by Democrats to discredit her because she poses an “existential threat,” as conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart puts it in the film.
Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin frames Palin as the next Reagan, a conservative icon laying out an agenda for a new generation of the party. But the problem is that the GOP establishment views her with suspicion and is unwilling to defend her against liberal attacks, he claims.
One of the most politically stunning moments of the film comes when Levin rails against the party establishment as images of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are flashed on-screen.
Breitbart also lashes out at the Republican elite for failing to defend Palin.
“Men no longer have a sense of chivalry,” he says. They are “eunuchs who have run as men but who aren’t men.”
So the question remains:
Just how is this going to be a secret weapon if it is designed to appeal only to conservatives and those who already like Sarah Palin?
It sounds like a song sung to — and by — the choir before.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.