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MOVIE REVIEW: Fair Game

Sean Penn gets to play politics with Bush legacy

Fair Game

Fair Game

  • Fair Game
  • Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame in "Fair Game."
  • Fair Game
  • Fair Game
  • Sean Penn as Joseph Wilson in "Fair Game."
  • (L-R) Sean Penn as Joseph Wilson and Ty Burrell as Fred in "Fair Game."
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Fair Game, with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts (who also played a married couple in 21 Grams), shouldn’t be confused with other movies called Fair Game.

There’s the Cindy Crawford, Baldwin that isn’t Alec, version from the mid-1990s. There’s one that came out in the mid-2000s. Oh, and there’s also one that came out in the early '80s.

Come on, people! Come up with different movie titles.

I did a blog about bad movie titles recently, but one of my other pet peeves is when the same cliché phrases became multiple movie titles over and over.

This movie could’ve been called Joe Wilson’s War. That’s what it is when Penn, perhaps the best actor around, plays Joe Wilson and goes on the war path when his wife (Valerie Plame) and kids have their names come out in response to comments he madeabout President Bush. The administration didn’t like him talking about how there was no proof of weapons of mass destruction, and the fact that he told them that.

Part of my problem with this movie is that when you do a real-life story, I don’t think you have the right to fictionalize (it’s one of my biggest complaints about Ron Howard films).

There was a goofy scene in an elevator where Penn and Watts pretend not to know each while they make small talk that probably never took place. And if memory serves,the movie had the course of events go in a slightly different way so we would be more outraged by the Bush administration.

I’m guessing Sean Penn drooled when this script was sent to him.

Luckily, the film doesn’t get too preachy until the third act, and no matter what side you fall on politically, you’ll probably find enough in this movie to enjoy watching it. It’s somewhat compelling, and always refreshing to see some espionage thriller that isn’t an over-the-top James Bond picture.

I really enjoyed some of the dinner table debates Penn would have with his friends. It might be about why he should be allowed to smoke cigars in his house and not freezing outside on the stairs; or more often, the debates with friends about politics. His friends were oblivious to what the Wilson’s did for a living.

I also enjoyed watching the tension these various things did to their marriage; although a scene with Penn confronting his wife as she leaves at 3 a.m. seems completely bogus.

I swear, when Penn cries on film (Sweet and Lowdown, Mystic River come to mind), I always lose it. His face just has this way of really showing emotional pain.

The cinematography in this was awful. My friend speculated that they did the shaky camera thing to make it look more like a documentary because these were “real” events. I’m convinced it was just poor camera work. They needed to buy a tripod or two.

There were enough scenes I really enjoyed – like Scooter Libby grilling members of the CIA – that I would recommend the movie. I just hope this “fact based fiction” that is done so often, is done more accurately in the future. It makes Fair Game not always a fair movie.

I’m giving it a C-.