Movie Review: The Campaign
Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
As the upcoming Presidential election draws nearer, it only seems right that a comedy take advantage of the subject material. Enter Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as opposing North Carolina congressional candidates in The Campaign.
Directed by Jay Roach, who helmed both the Meet the Parents and Austin Powers trilogies, the movie is both farce and satire. Ferrell plays a four-term incumbent Democrat modeled seemingly after politicians like Bill Clinton and Gary Hart but with the similar brash cluelessness the former SNL alum used to play George W. Bush. Galifianakis once again steps into the shoes of a rather odd individual, a man running on the Republican ticket thanks to the deep pockets of greedy benefactors (Dan Aykroyd & John Lithgow) but at heart a very simple man with ideals as pure as his behavior is strange.
The comedy naturally derives from watching these polar opposites attempt to win over voters either through shameless pandering or vicious mud slinging. A talented supporting cast, including Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Bryan Cox and Karen Maruyama, make sure any moments not dominated by the two leads round out this exaggerated examination of the American political system.
To no surprise, the comedy is a mix of satiric observations, awkward personalities, and vulgur/over-the-top setups; and if one were looking for a simplistic cinematic comparison, this is Talladega Nights trading in Nascar for the House of Representatives. Weaving between the types of comedy keeps the film from feeling monotonous, as does the brisk runtime of 85 minutes (including a joke or two in the credits just to warn those of you who bolt for the exit door when text starts to roll across the screen).
One’s enjoyment of the picture squarely falls on the appeal of its leading men. Neither are exploring new territory and it’s pure personal taste if one will be satisfied that each delivers exactly the type of performance and character that would be expected of them. Anyone suffering comedy fatigue in the case of either actor won’t find anything fresh to rekindle that initial spark that brought each to the forefront of mainstream comedy success.
That being said, the similarities to real life election practices and corruption rampant in American politics still rings through the humor on display. Only time will tell if it has the ability to get better upon subsequent viewings like others from its stars (Anchorman, The Hangover). Assuming you still look forward to films from Ferrell and Galifianakis, The Campaign will fill the comedy void amongst wide-releases of late. If either, or both, of the actors have worn out their welcome, seek movie entertainment elsewhere.
The Campaign hits theaters on August 10, 2012 and is rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity.