/Film reports that Austin Powers and Meet the Parents director Jay Roach will be helming the HBO original film Game Change, which looks at the 2008 Presidential election between John McCain and Barack Obama. The project is based on John Heilemann and Mark Halperin‘s 2010 book of the same name and will be adapted by screenwriter (and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member) Danny Strong.

Roach and Strong previously worked together on the 2008 HBO film Recount, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning look at the controversial 2000 Florida recount. That film is a terrific, tense and funny political drama, with top-notch performances from Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary and especially Laura Dern as the optimistically-clueless Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

I doubt anyone would have guessed, after seeing the Austin Powers trilogy, that Roach would emerge as a skillful director of political drama, charging the often absurd situations with a buoyant humor absent in, say, everything by Oliver Stone.

We reported in December that Roach would be directing Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in a comedy pitting the pair of professional goofballs as rival presidential candidates. That film was supposedly to be ready in time for the 2012 elections, but there’s no word on which project will take priority.

Roach and Strong have their work cut out for them with Game Change – Heilemann and Halperin’s book is reportedly an exhaustively researched account of that polarizing period in our recent political history, culling from over 300 interviews with people in the know.

With Roach having wisely jumped the sinking Fockers ship, he is in the middle of a fascinating and inspiring mid-career shift, revealing a flair for drama we never could have guessed while watching Goldmember. The 2008 election is a ridiculously huge story, but judging from Roach and Strong’s stellar work on Recount, the result will be nothing short of interesting.

What do you think of Game Change?

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