Mere months after the release of the Sarah Palin hagio-documentary The Undefeated, British provocateur Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney) arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival with a counter-screed, Sarah Palin: You Betcha! The doc premiered Friday and it looks like it may leave Mama Grizzly–hating liberals sorely unsatisfied: Let’s take a look at Broomfield’s “revelations” and see which, if any, of his punches actually land.
• Broomfield’s drive to Wasilla through the icy Alaskan wilderness is punctuated by a soundtrack so ludicrous — ominous violins, shrill piano notes — that you’d think he was on the hunt for the Abominable Snowman. Once he arrives, Palin’s local fans turn out to be warm and endearing, not a bunch of raging hicks. Point: Palin!
• Broomfield successfully tracks down Mercede Johnston, the candid sister of Palin’s former son-in-law-to-be, Levi. Mercede recounts her brother’s harrowing memories of his traumatic, manipulative appearance onstage with the Palins at the Republican National Convention: “He said it was crazy. And they made him … ” — here comes the bombshell! — ” … shave.” Point: Palin!
• Broomfield searches for a Palin classmate to interview, going as far back as her elementary school — and he finally finds one now living in Egypt. The determined director sets forth! He collects a few nice shots of dusty Alexandria, with the call to prayer warbling in the background, giving geographic proof that his dogged pursuit of the truth knows no borders. Oh: The classmate there has nothing interesting to say. Point: Palin! (Frequent Flier Miles: Broomfield!)
• Levi Johnston’s agent, Tank, refuses a $500 offer for an interview with Levi because “The last interview we did, we got $20,000.” However, Tank goes on to explain, unprompted, that Johnston also doesn’t want to talk because “a lot’s changed in the Palin house, personal stuff. Drug use. Boyfriends and girlfriends of Sarah and Todd coming ‘round … ” The rumors are new, and not exactly hard facts, but hey, at least Broomfield got him to say something. Point: Broomfield!
• Broomfield wants to show what a superficial individual Palin is, so he includes a sequence about her alleged plastic surgery and Bump-it hairdo. Ah, sexist and inconsequential! Point: Palin!
• Broomfield attempts to highlight the suffering Palin caused others by introducing scandal after scandal, then cutting to a shot of its victims trashing Palin. The result: Regardless of the viability of their grievances, her enemies just look like spurned brats. Point: Palin!
• To try to paint a compelling portrait of Palin’s two-faced, evil nature, Broomfield regurgitates just about every blog post from the last three years, throws in clips of the Katie Couric interview (which at this point would put even Rachel Maddow to sleep), and digs into the revelation that Palin wasn’t actually nicknamed “Barracuda” because of her intensity on the high school basketball court, but rather because she liked the Heart song of the same name. Point: Palin!
• Broomfield finally gets his big Roger & Me chance to question his target at a small Oklahoma tea-party convention. Standing up among all the moony-eyed Palin lovers, he blurts out a question so idiotic, so dated, so irrelevant that we just wanted to slap our foreheads: “IS YOUR POLITICAL CAREER OVER?” Palin sends the crowd into a cheering frenzy when she responds by deploying one of the most confident disses in recent memory. You almost want to cheer right along with them. Point: Palin!
Final score: Palin 7, Broomfield 1