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“We didn’t put a nickel of P&A into this and the distributor had the movie for only three weeks. To describe this as anything but a hit is inaccurate,” director-writer Stephen Bannon said on Sunday. “This is a documentary opening against Harry Potter on the toughest weekend of the year. We had small numbers but only in small theaters. In bigger markets, like Orange County, we’ll do $12,000 per screen.”
So what are the critics saying about the movie?
“A partisan piece stitched together using positive sound bites about Sarah Palin that will get media attention simply for its subject, though it isn’t a must-see film by any means,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy in his review.
“Puzzlingly titled The Undefeated in that its heroine lost the last election in which she ran and subsequently stepped down from her job as governor of Alaska before her term was up, this narrowly conceived valentine calls upon a vast chorus of coworkers, friends and admirers to numbingly defend everything she’s ever said or done and to champion her as a maverick politician with a real connection to the people. Set to begin theatrical runs next week in select houses nationwide, this will attract media attention in the way that anything to do with Palin invariably does (all the more so because it’s favorable), but nothing about the film earmarks it as a must-see anywhere other than in the living rooms of die-hard loyalists,”he adds.
Time magazine’s Richard Corliss writes, “The movie may tempt even the most ardent conservatives to emulate their idol’s tenure as governor and walk out halfway through.”
He adds that the film, which opened over the weekend in Atlanta; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City; Orange County, California; Orlando and Phoenix is like a “two-hour devotional view of the closest thing national politics has to a movie star, in a picture that plays like a No. 1 fan’s purest, longest love letter.”
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Abele calls the film “Essentially a Sarah Palin infomercial masquerading as a documentary, the film wavers between depicting her as a victim in need of backup and a strong leader worthy of devotion.”
“The section of the film with the most potential to interest those least familiar with Palin’s achievements before her unsuccessful vice presidential bid is the intensive rundown of her Alaska tenure. But while it boldly positions Palin as a political outsider strong enough to take on establishment thought in both parties — and big oil when it came to the state’s energy (and cash) needs — the movie defensively frames her as a victim in need of saving from hateful comedians/pundits,” he adds.
“By the time The Undefeated hits its final rallying-cry note, hinting with a hammer swing at the imagined glory of a 2012 presidential run, the patience of even die-hards might be tested by Bannon’s ain’t-she-perfect fervor. All Palin has to do is make those fans happy and run. But then she’d really have to live up to that title,” writes Abele.
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