Alison Willmore of the AV Club recently reviewed the Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated, and it’s a good thing she was there, because I’d sooner spend 90 minutes reviewing scrotum tazers (do they have those, you’re probably wondering? I don’t know, try a google image search). Nonetheless, the film represents an interesting narrative challenge, in terms of how to create a full-length film about how great someone is using dubious evidence. The director must be a former local news guy, because it seems the solution they came up with was basically “B-ROLL, MOTHERF*CKER!”
“The near-two-hour runtime is fleshed out with filler shots that are the video equivalent of clip art—discussions of the need for budget cuts come with a glimpse of money being set aflame, and talk of Palin being attacked in the press is accompanied by footage of an angry crowd shouting at the camera. These inserts get wilder and more dreamlike as the film goes along—lions hunting down and eating a zebra, a man with his head in a hedge, two businessmen smiling at each other while hiding weapons behind their backs, a knight getting shot with an arrow…”
Ooh, lions eating a zebra, that’s one of my all-time favorite stock footage videos. It’s up there with “fat people walking around the beach shot from the neck down” and “husband exasperated by carton of milk.”
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine anyone who isn’t already a devoted Palinite seeking out or sitting through The Undefeated, which makes its distance from its subject all the more befuddling. The film features no interviews with Palin—she’s heard via snippets from the audiobook of Going Rogue, and seen only in news clips. Other than an opening montage of childhood photos, there’s nothing about her background or early life. The film sticks to her political career, presumably with the thought that it will reinforce her accomplishments in the arena, but in the process, it perversely provides a reminder of that career’s limited scope.
“Going Rogue.” Man, I’d forgotten about that. I love that title. It makes me imagine her getting spooked by flash bulbs and goring a reporter. That’d be a way better movie.