RATED: ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | WORTH: Rental
Rated: R Brief nudity, language and crude sexual content.
Release Date: August 10, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 25 minutes
Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Chris Hemchy, Shawn Harwell
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Sarah Baker, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd
SYNOPSIS: In order to gain political clout in their North Carolina district, two CEOs try to oust the long-standing unopposed congressman Cam Brady by backing naive local Tourism Center director Marty Huggins on the ballet.
REVIEW: Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, and Dinner for Schmucks director Jay Roach returns for another batch of comedy - this time of the political nature. Writer Chris Henchy, a man familiar with Will Ferrell films since he wrote Land of the Lost and The Other Guys, joins forces with Eastbound and Down scribe Shawn Harwell to take advantage of Ferrell's vast experience as a both a political candidate and the President of the United States. Of course, George Bush didn't have to deal with the likes of Zach Galifianakis.
North Carolina District 11 Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell, Casa de mi Padre) has enjoyed five consectutive terms in Washington, D.C.. serving his home town. When his numbers drop due to a publicized martial infidelity, two corporate CEOs Glen (John Lithgow, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Wade Motch (Dan Ackroyd, Ghostbusters) lose faith that Brady will be able to support their greedy plans to build factories to be filled with cheap foreign labor and decide to pull their support from Brady in favor of naive local Tourist Center director Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover II). Desperate to change his howntown for the better and make his father Raymond Mitch (The Rise of the Planet of the Apes) proud, Marty accepts and soon learns that politics is not for the timid.
Rebounding from his silly and awkward Casa de mi Padre, Will Ferrell tackles a topic that he is more familiar with. Spending years honing his impression of George Bush during his stint on Saturday Night Live which turned into a limited run one-man Broadway show, Ferrell knows the ups and downs of political live from the perspective of a supposed dim-witted president. Taking on the mantle of congressman Cam Brady, Ferrell takes all his political clout and adds a dash of Talladega Nights Ricky Bobby and creates a classic V8 political machine that used to run on all cylinders but now seems to be misfiring in the wake of his own shaken belief of infallibility and sudden corporate backed competition in the pudgy form of Marty Huggins. Galifianakis’ Huggins character is a strange, timid effeminate, high-pitched, lisp voiced man who loves his wife, boys, two pugs, and the town he grew up in. As the local Tourist Center director, Marty takes pride in the work he does and the happiness he tries to spread to other residents. The only thing he does lack is the respect from his father Mitch that, coupled with his love for the prosperity of his North Carolina district, prompts him to accept the Motch’s respect for Marty to become Brady’s competition.
The Campaign is all about… the campaign. Cam Brady, unaccustomed to having any opposition, relies on his campaign manager Mitch (Jason Sudeikis, Horrible Bosses) to turns his political sexual misdeeds into something positive. Sudeikis adds a cool southern drawl to a more understated performance to make his character different from past films efforts. On the other side of the ticket, the Motch brothers employ the dark suited professional spin-doctoring campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story) to turn Marty from the quiet Travelocity gnome of a man into a fierce political animal. McDermott is sultry cool, of course, as the high-powered, high-paid campaign manager who is more black-clad assassin than political maven. Rounding out the main cast are the wives Mitzi Huggins (Sarah Baker, Modern Family) and Rose Brady (Katherine LaNasa, Valentine's Day), one a devoted partner to a wonderful man, and the other a trophy wife more concerned about image and power than marriage.
The comedy bits, excluding but not limited to the baby-punching incident at the candidates’ first debate, are silly and sometimes shocking, always able to elicit a laugh or a smile. Marty’s mannerisms, similar to his character in Due Date, are enough to make you both sympathize and pity him. The lengths that the opponents and their campaign camps go to in order to out-do the other are hilarious. A simple wardrobe malfunction even manages to go seemingly unnoticed by the candidates while glaringly obvious to the rest of the cast and audience.
The comedy works on a lot of levels. The political angle is both funny and poignant to the recent past and current climate. The problem comes in with the rest of the story. Focusing on eight weeks on the campaign trail brings with it the highs of humors and the lows of plodding political storyline. Of course, this is not an episode of The West Wing nor does it claim to be, but maybe the context of the story does not is not as stimulating as the worlds of Ron Burgundy or Ricky Bobby.
Punching babies aside, The Campaign works on the merits of its cast and the strengths of its one-two punch of political comedy and parody. The story is okay but you will laugh quite a bit, no matter your political party preferences.
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