Fair Game (2010)
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +1

Sean Penn, Naomi Watts. Political drama. Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Valerie Plame Wilson. Directed by Doug Liman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson (Naomi Watts), whose career was destroyed and marriage strained to its limits when her covert identity was exposed by a politically motivated press leak. As a covert officer in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie's husband, diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Itís the type of dirty tricks exposť a political wildcatter like Sean Penn lives to make. And Mr. Penn is in top form, though at times coming across a bit priggish, the very characteristic his Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High would have mocked with a ďWow, lighten up, dude.Ē Boorish and morose even at dinner parties, his Joe Wilson can become somewhat insufferable as his attitude comes across as pompous and contentious. Of course, some see those as primary colors for an anti-hero movie star. Pennís got it down. He takes his persona into each role with a fervor and manages to hold our attention even when we find his character, well, pompous and contentious.

We who lean toward conservative politics tend to raise an eyebrow whenever Mr. Penn takes a forum in order to spout his Bush-was-a-monster mantra. For many of us his angry-man opinions often seem naÔve to the point of ignorance. But he is not ignorant. And while I often disagree with them, it is necessary for us to have the Sean Penns defy those in charge of our political system. Letís face it, our nationís capital can be a corruptible machine and very often those most trusted turn out to be the most corruptible. Having members of the media keep a close eye on those in charge of Americaís destiny is important. Like an abrasive cleanser, the artistic activist serves a purpose.

But while Fair Game is thought-provoking, it is also cynical and snappish. And like the political thrillers of Oliver Stone, where I often feel Iím getting a perspective rather than the facts, I was left wondering how a scene showing the Bush administration dressed in devil costumes for a Halloween party got left out.

The filmmakers have their agenda Ė to show this corruptible power in all of its insidiousness. In this instance, they stealthily propose George W and his cabinet to be political bogeymen responsible for the attempted character assignation of an innocent couple in order to achieve governmental objectives. I have to admit, thereís an awful lot of smoke for there not to be a fire. Perhaps the filmmakers are exposing an evil deed. But before those of a kindred political spirit label them as noble, they should remember that the same glee shown toward the exposing of right-wing bad behavior will not be found in movies concerning the wrongs taking place of the other side of the aisle. In the future, I hope Iím proven wrong with that assessment, but Hollywoodís tract record over the past four decades reinforces my assumption.

There are also left-leaning powers-that-be who are equally corruptible and corrupted. Remember that Democrat congressman caught with a huge amount of unaccountable loot in his freezer? Or, how about the present regimeís promise to keep things open and forthright. Still think thatís happening? These folks never seem to find their way into a Hollywood screenplay because media left-leaners hypocritically believe their party is pure in heart and therefore the truth must be sacrificed in order to accomplish a higher goal. Isnít that their problem with the tactics of their opponents?

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Ten or so obscenities, mostly the s-word.
Profanity: One profane use of Godís name.
Violence: Brief battle depictions; fierce verbal arguments.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Social drinking
Other: None
Running Time: 108 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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