It was after sitting through about 90 percent of the movie that I decided Sarah Palin's The Undefeated was 49 percent PBS-style documentary on how great Alaska is, 50 percent "Palin pal posse" circle jerk, and 1 percent Ronald Reagan references. Or perhaps a more accurate summation of this one-hour, 53-minute combo plate: an Alaskan-porno-Palin-sainthood-veneration sandwich with a bit of Ronald Reagan on the side, something like a wrinkly pickle. Shortly after the opening credits rolled, I wanted my money back.*
I am loathe to call this a movie, although it can be argued that it was quite theatrical. I trekked to the AMC Highlands Ranch 24, smuggled snacks in my bag and settled in. The opening montage of celebrities like Bill Maher, Louis C.K., Madonna and Matt Damon shoveling verbal manure on her was entertaining, but this was a few minutes followed immediately by a creepy, dark snow scene and a creepy, dark Bible quote from Matthew 7: 17-20 -- something about diseased trees, good fruit, bad fruit and a fire. I wanted my money back.
Next up was home videos of Palin and the fam, with children singing a hymn about swords in the background. Palin's audio-diary dialogue accompanied the scenes for the rest of the movie, interspersed with her pal posse's personal editorials about her awesome awesomeness, and her lead-off issue was how the Exxon Valdez incident made her want to get into politics. I wanted my money back.
The "God-Bless-Alaska" infomercial scenes took up a goodly portion of the flick, leading up to Palin's stint as mayor of Wasilla and her divine achievements with infrastructure and fiscal responsibility, and this is about the time where the thin veil gets torn asunder and the movie stops appearing to be a movie and transforms into a well-funded and disturbingly lengthy campaign advertisement. Don't misunderstand; it was always this, but it began to reek of naked, sweaty political opportunism at this point. I wanted my money back.
The Palin pal posse referred to her run-ins with criticism as a "spiritual battle," compared her to David against the Goliath of the oil companies and touted her resignation from the oil and gas commission after her whistle-blower routine as her way of "maintaining her ethics," and then cut to her inaugural swearing-in as governor amid blatant references and imagery comparing her to James Stewart's character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. At this point I was so audibly banging my forehead against the back of the chair in front of me that several other moviegoers requested that I cease. I wanted my money back. There was some more Alaska-suckling, blah blah, mumby-blah, the creepy snow scene reappeared a few more times and Palin blamed all of Alaska's problems on the last governor, did her turn on the government-cleanup catwalk, used the next few minutes to outline her qualifications to get the G.O.P. presidential nomination, she vetoed, she privatized a dairy, more about her triumphant battle against big oil and references to her being the solution to the "cigar-smoking good old boys" network. At this point I noticed that she had a nice rack and she wears an exorbitant amount of eyeliner, but I still wanted my money back. This is the place in the movie where the tired sports metaphors, lame pop-culture/Bible quotes and Palin's masturbatory micro-speeches about the Alaska gas pipeline project and how she super-heroed that shit got me bored and drowsy, and my mind went a' blackberrying. I recalled watching Who's Nalin' Paylin?, the mock-politico, Hustler-produced porno from 2008 with Lisa Ann as "Serra Paylin." That was a damn good porno -- especially the scene at the end where Paylin has a threesome with a Hillary and a Condoleezza lookalike. This thought kept me awake for a few moments, but by this point I really just wanted my money back.
I regained consciousness around the point in the film where Palin was signing state bills at her kitchen table and had an approval rating above 80 percent but didn't care about her approval rating. The other moviegoers did not appreciate my vocal, expletive-laden response to the last thing, and so I shut it and watched as they finally got to the part where McCain offered her the V.P. spot on the ticket. Palin's pal posse changed up, and there were new people to deify her for the rest of the movie. I assumed the other ones needed to rest up their jaws, because sucking that hard for that long can cause cramps and muscle spasms. I wanted my money back.
Sarah Palin has charisma, she is a rock star, blah mumby blah. This is where the first of the later-ubiquitous Reagan allusions was thrust in, and I was only surprised they waited this long in the movie to bust that out. The pal posse credited her with giving birth to the Tea Party movement, they defended Palin's frequent gaffes as being the product of people who took issue with how she spoke rather than what she said and there was more gloss put on her failed Veep run than on her salmon-gripping smile. I was thinking about getting my money back.
Enter Sarah Palin the victim. Against imagery of a scurvy pack of lions devouring a plump zebra carcass, the pal posse described how after she got her ass kicked in the election and returned to her day job as the Governor of Alaska, friends turned on her, the press was slamming her like an empty beer stein on a bar table and there was a vast, left-wing conspiracy to cook up ethics violations against her for "harassment." Democrats were blocking her legislative agenda, she was going broke defending herself against ethics complaints, her governorship is flailin' like Palin and we got to hear how it was everyone else's fault but hers. I was thinking seriously now about asking for my money back.
Palin's jump-ship from the governor's position was spun to make her the heroine of proud, disenfranchised patriots struggling for freedom against President Obama, which segued into a stretch of President Obama figuratively being taken out behind the woodshed for a whipping. It made me think about the porn sequel Obama's Nailin' Paylin. It wasn't as good as the first one, but remembering the bipartisan-compromising positions kept me awake long enough to make it to the part in the movie that finally got me out of my chair and headed for the parking lot. I wondered if customer service would give me my money back.
Watching political candidates quote, refer to, compare themselves to, and posthumously fellate former President Reagan to try and get a good gig is so old it's expected, but the blatant manner in which the pal posse presented Palin as the natural and righteous successor to Reagan's legacy turned what was already a tacky, vainglorious, soporific and at times just plain bizarre documentary into a choir-preaching, sugar-spackled, flag-sucking monstrosity that made me want to douche my brain. At least that's what I told the AMC Theaters customer service clerk, and then the manager, as I politely but emphatically requested a refund. I wanted my money back.
I asked for my money back. The young, female clerk asked me which movie I had seen, I told her, she called the manager over, he looked at me, I explained to him that the movie was a thinly-veiled campaign ad and two wasted hours of my life I was never going to get back, and then I explained the brain-douching part, during which he grinned and gave the clerk an affirmative nod so as to indicate that I was getting my money back. The clerk refunded my credit card, and very sweetly stated that "this is probably a movie for older people."
I got my money back.
*Editor's note: Since we're big and very important entertainment reporters, we'd normally get comped for a film preview like this. Evidently, though, the makers of The Undefeated didn't like the cut of Westword's jib, and our request for tickets was ignored.