The Campaign Film Review
Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“Running for office, that’s always been my dream,” says Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center, after being told by his father (Brian Cox) that he’ll oppose current Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) for office after a small scandal has caused Brady to drop in the popularity polls in the comedy movie, The Campaign.
Determined to keep his seat, Brady decides to go all out and play hardball against his new opponent. Early in the campaign Marty seems to be a likable but naïve, weak/odd choice for a candidate. But with the financial backing of his new benefactors, a pair of unscrupulous power brokers known as the Moth brothers (played by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) and his new overbearing, menacing campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), it’s not long before Marty becomes a strong and worthy adversary. With both candidates becoming overly obsessed with winning, they decide to throw caution, manners, ethics and morals aside and do whatever it takes to completely destroy each other to obtain public office.
Funny, silly, and unexpectedly mean in parts, The Campaign is a comedy that has some laugh out loud moments early in the film but quickly starts to lose both steam and laughs before the first half of the film is over. Will Ferrell delivers an adequate performances as Brady, the not-too-bright, overly-sexed career politician, a combination of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in one who will do and say anything to hold onto his political office. But, there is no real challenge for him here. He’s played this type of character before on the small screen on Saturday Night Live.
Zach Galifianakis is solid as Marty, the simple, well-meaning and decent aspiring candidate who quickly starts to lose his way in pursuit of a political career. Most of the film’s early laughs are when both Will and Zach are on screen together trying sabotage and upstage each other.
One stand-out performance is by Dylan McDermott as the cold, ruthless, stone-faced campaign manager whose job it is to make Huggins an electable candidate. His cold stares and forceful language make his scenes with Zach some of the funniest in the film.
However, the movie’s tone and humor goes from being silly and funny to dark, mean and ugly in the second half, with many of the jokes being obvious and flat. The movie also becomes extremely predictable with an ending the audience will see coming a mile away.
Crude, dumb and weak, The Campaign is a political satire that ultimately comes up short on the laughs and goes too far with its mean-spiritedness.
The Campaign hits theaters on August 10, 2012 and is rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity.