September 28, 2011


It was inevitable that someone would make a none-too-flattering documentary about Sarah Palin before disgraced governor and her beauty pageant-winning smile even attempted to run for president in the next election. However, the fact that it ended up being confrontational British filmmaker Nick Broomfield who fulfilled that public service was a pleasant surprise. Broomfield is known for taking on controversial topics involving cultural icons in films like Kurt And Courtney, Biggie And Tupac, and Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam. Generally speaking, he heads out to create his films armed only with a camera, a microphone, a fascination with a topic, and a willingness to burn bridges, approach strangers, and embarrass himself to get the footage he needs. So how did the displaced Brit fair on the snow and controversy covered plains of Wasilla, Alaska? Hit the jump to find out.

sarah-palin-imageThe thing about Nick Broomfield movies is that they are as much about the creation of the film itself as the subject at hand. The director initially heads out to Palin’s hometown with an open mind, hoping to find out what rocketed the small town politician to the national spotlight. He collects antlers and swaps stories with Palin’s parents and even approaches Palin herself at a book signing with an interview request. She flashes her millions dollar smile and responds, “you betcha!” It seems like this might quickly become the easiest documentary of Broomfield’s career, but quickly that all changes. Broomfield fairly innocently interviews a local with some fairly banal negative things to say about Palin and almost instantly word gets back to her camp. Access to those in her inner circle disappears. Intrigued, Broomfield digs a little deeper and soon it becomes clear that everyone in the town is either two terrified to discuss the Palin’s or has been ostracized from the community for doing so (one woman received death threats for speaking out against the politician, but the local police refused to protect her house from violent Palin supporters because they feared the squad car might be damaged. Wonderful public service, don’t ya think?).

Without delving too deep into dreaded spoiler territory, it’s worth noting that Broomfield often doesn’t typically land the central interview when making these documentaries. However, for the most part he’s always able to create a more intriguing on complex portrait of his subjects by profiling the world surrounding them than he ever would through a direct interview. Sarah Palin-You Betcha! is no exception. Palin does appear several times in the film, but I won’t get into details. For the most part, the image of Palin that Broomfield forms is gathered from archival footage and interviews with a variety of people close to her and the results are pretty damn chilling.

Palin comes off as a vindictive, under-qualified, and ill-prepared politician. She frequently uses her power to settle personal vendettas, lies to the public, and even has a reputation for playing with her blackberry throughout important meetings. Her life is also frighteningly connected to her church (not unlike a certain former president and didn’t that turn out well), which is particularly extreme and known for discussing witchcraft as an actual enemy and banning books from libraries as if we still live in the McCarthy era. It’s a pretty frightening documentary portrait. One that won’t surprise people who have already been looking into Palin’s shortcomings too much, but should still unnerve by confirming their greatest fears.

sarah-palin-you-betcha-posterThankfully, the movie isn’t simply some damning collection of scare tactics. Broomfield may approach his work with a serious agenda, but he’s a very playful filmmaker. Palin has provided plenty of comedy fodder over the years and Broomfield is happy to add to her hilarious legacy. Hysterical archival footage of Palin’s bungled news anchor career is unearthed, while Broomfield himself gets into a variety of funny situations including openly negotiating participation fees with his subjects and wandering into political offices unannounced. Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is a damn funny movie that treats it’s subject with the inquisitive interest and irreverence that Mrs. Palin deserves.

If there’s a major downside to Sarah Palin: You Betcha,! its that the movie is destined to preach to the converted. Even though Broomfield openly goes into the project with an open mind, it’s pretty clear where he stands at the end and Palin’s frighteningly loyal supporters will likely dismiss the film outright as lefty propaganda. That’s really a shame because anyone who even considers voting for the pageant-winner-turned-politician should really be forced to watch this movie before making that decision. Sadly, it’s more likely that Palin’s people will just watch her embarrassingly self-serving doc The Undefeated instead. Still, if you feel like watching movies that will make you giggle until you become enraged, I can’t think of a better choice than Sarah Palin: You Betcha! Though he may have been able to dig a little deeper in a some of his previous movies, few of his subjects have deserved the Broomfield treatment quite as much as Palin. If Katie Couric could make that lady look the fool with a light reading question and a team of handlers around them, you can just imagine what Broomfield dug up with no one to answer to.

Rating: B+

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  • karl nelson

    I come to this site for movie news and reviews, not your snide political opinions.
    I don’t give a fig about your feeling about the former Governor of Alaska Phil. If you want to write polital pieces head on over to Huffpo or the DailyKos. Dont care for it here. Count on me not clicking on any of your news post again. Hack.

    • Strong Enough

      oh shut the **** up you dumbass

    • Phil Brown

      Hey Karl, I’m sorry if I offended you or anyone else with my review. That wasn’t my intention. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to review a movie about Sarah Palin without discussing Sarah Palin. That seems impossible (kind of like reviewing Avatar without discussing the tall blue people). I was only writing about issues that are part of the film. This was not intended to be a political rant. Also, this post was a review, not a news article and reviews are inherently bias. On the plus side, not only do I have the freedom to express my opinions on this site and elsewhere, but you and everyone else has the freedom to call me hack and trash my name on the message board. Ain’t freedom of speech grand? Boycott my articles if you wish. Seems pretty pointless though since I normally just write about movies. Your call though.

  • dogg

    If only Obama had gotten ONE TENTH the scrutiny. The Orwellian Two Minutes Hate against the woman is beyond creepy. It says way more about the people attacking her than Palin herself.

    • Vince

      You don’t get it?
      She help create the tea party nuft said

  • Vince

    Will someone PLEASE put this kook out of our misery?

  • chaburchak

    So Sarah Palin is “frightening”, not just once but three times in the same review? You are such a puss…

  • Brandt Hardin

    Whataya know? Some unbiased coverage of Palin! I hope this guy has us in for some real laughs! In the meantime, you can get a real juicy look at some parts of her you won’t see in the film on my artist’s blog at

  • Tom Lane

    I’m with you Karl. I found this website looking for non-progressive entertainment news and thought I found it in Collider, but all it took was a few months and the libs had to go off on another baseless attack on none other than their favorite punching bag. Dogg you are absolutely correct. No one in this lib media nightmare is questioning Obama still! And look at the chaos he has caused not only in OUR country but all over the world! As for Vince, you need to learn how to spell (I know that’s a tall order considering what the DOE has done to our schools) because that would make the ignorant statement that you wrote easier for your fellow sheeple to understand. The PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA created the Tea Party, including myself. The fact that this website would give this trash the light of day is very disappointing to me for I now have to delete it from my bookmarks and the search for an unbiased entertainment news site continues. Good day ignorant libs, and please educate yourselves because you are not going to like the replacement for the constitution that is headed our way!

    • Smartgunner

      Personally, I think it’s great!
      More eejits that surround themselves with the delusion that these problems started with Obama.
      Go drink your Tea and have a Party all on your own in the corner, you muppet.

  • Northern Star

    Phil, you lambast Palin’s supporters for only wanting to watch favourable documentaries about her when you are CLEARLY heavily biased against her, and you’re ridiculous ‘review’ shows that in spades!

    Broomfield is a self-serving hack who makes bandwagon-jumping ‘documentaries’ in order to get himself publicity rather than any journalistic merit, is this the same Broomfield whose ‘Battle for Haditha’ smearpiece portrayed U.S. soldiers as little more than cold-blooded murderers, but failed to report the findings of the investigation into that incident? He’s little more than ‘Pravda’ with a camera, if you really think Broomfield has gone into the editing room determined to paint a fair and balanced picture about Sarah Palin, then you’re stupider than your ‘review’ makes you sound…

    Sarah Palin got where she is by sheer hard work, from PTA to councillor to mayor to Governor to VP nominee, no-one gave her a hand-out, nor did she have wealth behind her to get her positions, and the Left’s completely insane, irrational, and pathological rage and hate against the entire Palin family says a lot more about so-called ‘liberalism’ than any hack-piece could!

    I would tell you what to do with yourself, but I’m pretty certain you attempt to do it anyway with strangers behind truckstops every night, you talentless hack… this is the last time I visit this site, ’nuff said!

    • Northern Star

      Just one more thing I feel compelled to point out, you show yourself to be little more than an anti-Christian bigot (not surprising, really), your snide reference to President Bush was both gratuitous and ignorant, Bush is a member of the United Methodist denomination, which is anything but a right-wing church, but of course, you wouldn’t know that because you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about, maybe you should read up on Obama’s virulently anti-semitic and racist pastor Jeremiah Wright and church, not to mention the Black Liberation theology he adheres to, which REALLY DOES directly influence his policies, unlike you or Broomfield’s assertions about Palin and her Assemblies of God denomination, which is a pretty mainstream church, unlike Obama’s extremist wingnut denomination… but Broomfield won’t make a ‘documentary’ about that, and if someone does, you’ll not review it here, will you?

      One last thing, that conspiracy theory about banning books was debunked years ago, some of the books Sarah Palin allegedly banned weren’t even published when she was mayor, and the person who accused her was a local well-known partisan, but anyone could find that out if they weren’t blinded by venomous hatred, you’re a sad little man Phil, this website has just lost a reader…

      • Phil Brown

        I might be a sad little man, but at least I don’t spend my time ranting about my political beliefs on message boards and accusing people I’ve never met of sweet, sweet truck stop love. I’d make an unfounded personal attack against you in response, but I try not to be an asshole when possible. Sorry for enjoying Nick Broomfield’s movie. I guess I’m bad person for not agreeing with you. Sigh…when will I learn?

      • Twistednic

        You will be missed, twat.

      • wtff

        Whatever ‘bias’ Phil displayed is so very mild its childish and rather comical that you’d react with such vehemence. “Venomous hatred?” Really? I mean, really???

        It’s a wonder you can watch/read/listen to anything since there appears to be such a level of anti-palin rhetoric out there.. coz, ya know, she does seem like a bit of a dimwit. A hard-working, god-fearing, mom, but a dimwit nonetheless. I don’t want some bible thumping moron in charge of one of the most militarily/economically powerful nations on earth. It happened once, and countless people the world over have suffered because of it.

        And I’m sure Collider will shut down it’s offices now that you’re leaving.. well, apparently leaving, anyway..

      • RandyAndy

        Of course, criticism, no matter how vague or indirect, directed upon what you jack off upon, gets up you so much so that like the typical angry American you are, rather than try and hold any sort of rational debate, you storm out of the room in a huff and denounce those who disagree, no matter how valid or invalid those criticisms are. Einstein, this is a REVIEW, an expression of OPINION. Hate to break it to you..

        Palin was chosen as a VP nominee, as confirmed by members of McCain’s presidential campaign, due to them wanting to parasitically and obviously latch onto the women vote given Clinton’s exit from being eligible to run for election. They were impressed by the strength and response that women were showing toward Clinton, and tried to get in on some of that sweet voter attention and oestrogenic fervour while it was still fresh. They viewed Obama’s campaign of making his racial background an issue as being used as somewhat of a gimmick to woo voters for the sake of electing the world’s first black president, and lo and behold, hatched their own gimmick to get an, a) traditional, good-hearted, down to earth, in-touch with the people, b) god-fearing, c) family-orientated, and, c) most conveniently for them, WOMAN, to run with the always unconvincingly smiling old man, an inexperienced, idiotic, “Yes, men and dinosaurs lived together, Yes, American law should be based on the god of the bible,” type woman at that. Uggh.. I’m all for democracy and all, but to think that there are so many idiots out there who can potentially put this idiot queen in charge of nuclear silos, scares the hell outta me, just as much as all the tea party morons who would personally Blame Obama for all the world’s problems when the previous Republican president fubar-ed half the goddamn world and left the current party to mop up.

    • wtff

      ^^ What he said. You Republicans had 8 years to decide things. Funny how the type of articles and news I’m sure you choose to listen to don’t report how people like you helped elect what is probably already considered to be one of the worst and most inept governments in US history. Don’t believe me? Over 100,000 dead innocent Iragi’s would disagree.

  • disco violenza

    Sarah Palin is all bones.

  • DPW

    Great review Phil…Collider has some of the best entertainment and media coverage online. You guys rock…don’t let the jerks above get you down. First time I’ve ever commented, but someone needs to call these weirdos out…I doubt they even regularly visit the site anyway…keep up the good work!

  • Phil123

    feel inclined to agree with DPW, your review had some humerous gentle mocking, it was hardly a political piece. and outside of the US, no one really talks about Sarah Palin as anything other than a scary joke

  • Kelly Joanne Cannon

    Sarah Palin, fuck you, and go fuck yourself, too. You only give strong, dependable women a real bad name is all. I definitely mean all this, too. Extremely strongly.

  • OhNoNotAgain

    Thanks Phil, Will now go out of my way to watch this Doco.

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