Movie Review – The Campaign
August 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Gosh, just another movie from Liberal Hollywood trying to paint politics in a negative…Christ I couldn’t even complete my fake rant cause it just to insane to believe that politics have really come down to “this side does that” and “our side is this”. It’s like taking that old standby joke of “white people do this” and “black people do that” to the extreme and politics has become a joke nowadays. Well, much like The Daily Show, The Campaign is political satire film that hits a little too close to home when it comes to displaying the competitive world of politics. Instead of pandering to one side of the political aisle, The Campaign wonderfully jerks off both sides of the debate with a scatter shot comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.
Will Ferrell is Cam Brady, a long-term congressman who is running unopposed until a big corporation that wants to use the cities land for cheap, Chinese labor, decides to give him an opponent that is poised to unseat the incumbent congressman. Zach Galifianakis plays Marty Huggins, an oaf of a man who has become the political shill for the agenda of the Republicans, using dirty tactics to take down Brady while still retaining some semblance of humanity in the midst of selling out his convictions and city. The two politicians get into some school yard tactics to derail the others campaign hopes.
That is about the gist of the movie, a Democrat and Republican doing battle as we every night on television. But the thing about this that is frightening to me and elicits more grimaces than laughs is because how close to the cloth this movie lampoons actual politics. The opening sequence sets the tone for the movie where Cam Brady pretty much says what people want to hear. A politician with just platitudes and a hand shake, a smirk and a platform of the same thing. It seems a little too on the nose, but then again this whole movie is just a big lampoon of current American politics. It does it well with over the top antics, crude humor and a movie that is grounded in reality, cause it does seem like something we have experience before in politics.
But a sharp satirical blade can only carry a movie so far. The Campaigns weakness comes from the hammering of jokes and the true laughs of the film are scatter shot amongst the over the top antics and the two leads. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Will Ferrell and his comedies. I think that he gets crapped on a lot for playing the same characters, but he does make his characters all his own and funny. Cam Brady is a great character, reminiscent of Bush which Ferrell impersonated back on SNL, but the actions of the character are just too stifling. I mean all his action are a series of hackey, comedic prats that are used in other movies. He handles snakes and get bitten. He seduces his opponents wife and makes a sex tape to spite the competition. And Brady punches both a dog and baby mistakenly after trying to punch Zach’s character. Really? Using the same punching gag twice? Whatever. Even with those moments, Ferrell still has some touching and funny moments of vulnerability as Brady, which does get the laughs. And then we come to the other problem.
Zach on the other hand, well this role and his other leading roles still lead me believe that he is not leading man material. Now I have nothing against him as I love his standup, find him hilarious and enjoy his style of comedy. The thing is, Hollywood thinks that if you dress him in gaudy clothing, give him a terrible hairstyle and facial hair, make him talk in a high pitched voice and make him out to be this slow, buffoon, that he is a comedy gold. That’s not the case. He is a secondary player and excels at that. He wasn’t great in Hangover 2, Due Date or even this movie. He plays a character in The Campaign who has a fat family, they eat junk food for dinner, have a comedic dog (Pugs) and that is what supposed to make him funny to us. Sure he has some great lines in the movie, but his presence is just manufactured to get us to laugh at him cause he is the amalgamation of what Hollywood thinks makes him funny.
The two leads are what kind of drag the film down as they just play caricatures of previous roles they have done and don’t come into their own. The only character with some comedic pull is Dylan McDermott as the campaign manager Tim Wattley. He makes a rather one note character shine because he is unpredictable and has a presence on screen, probably due to the dashing looks of McDermott. But all the secondary characters are wonderful little caricatures of the type of people they are needed to play. Lithgow and Aykroyd play the underhanded big business buying the election. Sudekis and McDermott play campaign managers that stand by their candidates through the thick and thin, offer small moments of comedy that is definitely needed.
Overall, I vote for neither of the candidates in the movie. The leads were not the greatest, more so Zach than anything else. But the comedy and laughs come from the too close to reality political satire. I mean you can turn on The Daily Show and probably see one of the jokes from the film being used as a talking point. It’s the on the nose tact that lends to some of the better comedic moments of the film, while they are crammed amongst more hammy characterizations that Ferrell and Galifianakis exude in the movie. It’s a decent comedy that lends more to a few belly laughs and shocking realization that you might need when you see how close the movie mirrors current political climates.
Rating: 3 hanging chads out of 5
*images via RottenTomatoes