Sarah Palin, remember her? She’s the ex-Alaskan Governor/Ex-McCain running mate that may have cost the Republicans the last Presidential election, assuming it wasn’t because of how badly Bush left the country or that people may have legitimately wanted to see Obama take office… in case you needed a refresher. Anyways, in case you didn’t know there was once a scenario where she could have been in the White House, which British documentarian Nick Broomfield would like you to know would have been catastrophic. In Sarah Palin – You Betcha! he and his tiny team cozy up in Wasilla, Alaska to get opinions and footage from her friends, colleagues and even Palin herself. Two thirds of those goals do not go very well at all, and for some bizarre reason Broomfield lets you in on every production misfortune.
From Kurt and Courtney to Biggie & Tupac, it has always been Broomfield’s style to let you in on every moment, but in Sarah Palin, in which Nick takes on a subject with the highest barricade to clamber over, it seems all the more deflated. Things go okay at first, getting into the antler packed household of Palin’s parents, though his material with them is gentle at best. From there Broomfield begins an odyssey of people he can and cannot talk to. Old friends of Sarah’s: Depends. Members of the current Palin household: No. Levi: Can’t afford it. Palin herself: No, but Nick is sure naive about it. Old colleagues with an axe to grind: Very yes.
There is definitely something to be said about the new Wasilla dynamic, a heavily Evangelical town of single-digit-thousands now with an even line drawn through it of pro-Palin’s and anti-Palins. Some talking heads certainly have some interesting, if not enlightening things to say about the pitbull with lipstick, like a gay-supporting priest who describes Palin in the way Dr. Loomis describes Michael Myers. Otherwise, even the most close-knit ex-Palin pals get around to the conclusion you may already know: Palin is aggressive, misguided, misinformed, anti-intellectual, stubborn, scary, and very thankfully not in the White House. Which kind of brings about the most groan worthy point.
What is the point of doing a Palin doc at this point in time? Certainly her name carries a lot of news hype, but is there any actual relevance? She doesn’t seem to have any intentions to run in the 2012 election, and even if she did it’s overwhelmingly doubtful that she’d actually succeed. But, people still like to talk about her. On the streets you wouldn’t turn your head if you overheard her name pop up in passing conversation. She’s raised the bar on the political freakshow, and even if she isn’t the freakiest in the circus, she’s still the feature attraction. Nothing in You Betcha! will reveal any juicy new details or revelations about the Palin and her clan.
Even beyond Palin’s irrelevance, You Betcha! isn’t well made. Broomfield constantly looks like a wiener or a creeper, and never on top of the situation even the three-to-five times he manages to crack out witty joke. There’s a scene where he tried to crash an Evangelical congregation where Palin was speaking. Upon failing to get in contact with her, he then settles for speaking over a megaphone to get people’s attention as the flock leaves, which they do, because the echo and speaker music drowns out his mega-speaker to a whimper. And you see that. You also see, twice, the car-driving-up-and-introduction beginnings of an interview shoot forty minutes after you’ve seen extensive material from said interview. Broomfield also zooms in to the face of all of his subjects, letting you see every pore and makeup flake on the big screen. One time he zooms in on a picture of Palin hanging on a wall so close the lens clunks against it. That was the best part of the film.