The Bottom Line
Should you see it?
Ferrell is insane with stupidity and Galifianakis is even dumber, but they're both hilarious.
Obviously, a movie about politics is subject to a certain level of comparison for comparison's sake, but let's be serious. The Campaign
is a Will Ferrell
comedy. It's not going for high-level satire. Politics is merely the vehicle for Ferrell and compadre Zach Galifianakis
to fuck around for an hour and a half. Politics is a non-issue, a Kleenex into which Ferrell blows his nose.
is a lot of things: brash, vulgar, idiotic, but it's mostly hilarious. Ferrell isn't given as much free reign as he has in the past (no doubt due to absence of best-bud Adam McKay
directed this one, not Jay Roach
). Nevertheless, a little Ferrell goes a long way. The Campaign
manages to avoid melodrama, a must for a solid Ferrell comedy and a staple of his and McKay's movies (Anchorman, Step Brothers
follows Cam Brady (Ferrell), a good 'ol boy North Carolina Congressman who runs unopposed every other year. Until this year. Urged on by his craggy dad (Bryan Cox
), Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) leaves his post as official town tour guide and gives politics a shot. Huggins is the perfect complement to Ferrell's obnoxious and ruthless Brady. When Huggins gets his first taste of campaign politics in "the pros" (Brady shows a photo of him working out at Curves) he ends up crying.
Galifianakis is a strange comedic actor. His starring movie roles have all featured the same character (debuted? in his stand-up special Live at the Purple Onion
): an oblivious galactically stupid priss who wrecks everything around him. In The Campaign
, he's that guy again, but less obnoxious than in Due Date
and less destructive than in The Hangover
. Huggins is a cardigan-wearing, pug owning, lispsy family man and all around nice guy who goes to the dark side once he enters the game of politics. This is his funniest role yet.
Clueless, Huggins is assisted by a Lee Atwater-type hired gun (Dylan McDermott
) to run his campaign. This comes at the behest of two lobbyist brothers (John Lithgow
and Dan Aykroyd
, obviously based on the Koch brothers) who plan to bring "insourcing" to Ohio. Their plan for American slave labor will save shipping costs and double their already doubled profits. They just need a proxy to make it happen.
The references to real-life politics are abundant, but aren't saavy enough to vault The Campaign
into "critical success" territory. When Brady starts sending out dick pics to ladyfriends, you don't admire the film for its sly dig at Anthony Weiner
, but the background gives the film a weird legitimacy. The craziness that happens onscreen, most of it, has actually happened in real life. The Campaign
may not be good satire, but it is satire.
It does recycle old jokes, playing to its stars' strengths and stealing the "baby Jesus" dinner scene from Talladega Nights
to introduce both families. Sure it's cheap, but it works. Nobody's trying to win Oscars here.
If you love Anchorman
and Ferrell's other work, The Campaign
is for you in all its baby-punching glory. Teamed with Galifianakis, Ferrell has a kindred spirit to play off and react to. Watching two of the funniest guys on the planet is what it's all about.
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