Review: The Campaign

November 7, 2012 6:00 pm

via Wikipedia

Long-term Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, and is for the first time in his political career contested by unwitting oddball Marty Huggings (Zach Galifianakis), a local tourism director hand-picked by two ultra-wealthy CEO’s (John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd) looking to use Huggins as their puppet in the Senate.

With all guns blazing in Washington D.C. these days, The Campaign aims to hit political satire punches of it own. With sharp-witted funnymen Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in its corner, the film promises to put up a solid fight. Or so you’d think. Some half-worthy strikes are made, but these exist mainly because of one, Ferrell’s comedy genius and gift for impersonations, and two, Galifianakis’s ability to portray the eccentric outsider in a class-clown sort of way (think: The Hangover). However, this stuff has been done before: Ferrell with his Bush impersonations (famous on SNL), and Galifinakis’ character being his own self-invented twin brother Seth, used in his personal comedy acts. Not boring, but nothing really new here.

The Campaign, written by Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell and directed by Jay Roach, has its moments, though. Congressman Brady, a man possessing limitless confidence coupled with an apparent lack of ability or decency, boldly reciting The Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father Art, who is up in heaven, Aloe Vera be thy name…”) is Ferrell at his best. Huggins, a naïve, ultra Christian nitwit, draws laughs trash-talking Brady at a debate (“Hate to break it to you, friend, but your balloon is gettin’ ready to pop, and that balloon is full of your own butt toots”).

via RottenTomatoes

The film also gives insight into an imaginary American political arena that is not far-fetched from the absurdity of the current one. And why is that funny? Because who can’t relate to witnessing the shenanigans of politicians: empty campaign slogans (Brady is for “America, Jesus, and Freedom,” secretly admitting he doesn’t know what that means; Huggins calls for a revamp of Washington D.C., because “It’s a mess”), and their desperate attempts to entice their constituencies (Brady names multiple groups, from automotive audio installers to window tinters, as the “Backbone of America”). The Campaign allows you to laugh at the absurdity without simultaneously wanting to bash your head in – unlike its nonfictional counterpart.

It’s the sort of farcical comedy which thinks punching babies and dogs in the face is hilarious. Although these two punches will undoubtedly score laughs from certain audiences, The Campaign as a whole never manages to hit any deadly sucker blows, ultimately leaving it on its face with a bloody nose and blue eyes – albeit not knocked-out.

2/5 stars

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