The Campaign (2012)
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If you just want to see a simple movie that will make you laugh without having to think about the plot, then see the movie.
North Carolina congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has fallen into a leisurely routine of false promises and general negligence in his duties as the longtime unopposed representative. But after an obscene phone call to the wrong person finds Brady's approval rating drastically down, corporate bigwigs Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), decide to replace him with someone they can easily control for their own devious schemes. Their candidate is mild-mannered Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), a tourism enthusiast with naïve ideas of bettering his hometown. When Huggins announces his candidacy, and the stunned Brady quickly introduces him to the sinister world of politics, the battlefield is set for copious smear campaigns, name tarnishing and disgraceful machinations to destroy each other's reputations. But as the debates get dirtier and the backstabbing more barbaric, both candidates begin to question how far they'll go to win and what they're willing to lose.
The Campaign has an amusing premise. It examines the corruption, general crookedness, and underhanded big business influences behind politics, employing a wildly satirical viewpoint coupled with abrasive language and hysterical visual gags. "When you've got the money, nothing's unpredictable," insists Glenn Motch, defining his wealthy persuasions over chancy voters. An underdog candidate is uprooted from unremarkableness to be subjected to an immoderate transformation, itself an entertaining feat, for the sake of molding a puppet for exploitive moneymen. And he is to combat a long unopposed, professional politician, who has grown too accustomed to the post without having to put effort toward purpose or even basic responsibility. The two face off in riotous slander, invidious advertising strategies, backbiting, and baby punching. And their warfare gets steadily more caustic as election day looms. But that's it the setup is the story, and there's nothing more meaningful beyond that.
The tired theme of "do the right thing" rears its head, but it never serves to stress originality or the means for further mockeries of recognizable, past political blunders. The My Fair Lady shtick is catchy, Galifianakis and Ferrell are equally witty in their roles (their ridiculousness is amplified by an anticipated collaboration), while goofy voices (think one part Jiminy Glick and one part Stuart Smalley for Zach, with Will blending his Saturday Night Live presidential impressions), dirty jokes, and slapstick weigh in proportionally for humor. The Campaign also points the finger at the idiotic everyman who misinterprets intent and blindly falls for thinly stretched defamation attempts. But what does it all lead to? A few grand laughs and lovable imbeciles don't amount to a story it's essentially a promising foundation for comedy that forgets to tell a full-bodied, meaningful tale of political conversion and redemption.
- The Massie Twins
I think there's an excellent political satire hidden in some place of The Campaign. The general premise of an inept lout who is transformed into a charismatic candidate manipulated by the economical elite is very interesting; and even though it's not completely original, I think it's appropriate to occasionally remember it in order to recognize it whenever we find it in the real world (something which undoubtedly happens with a sad frequency). However, the few intelligence from the screenplay is diluted by the coarse and vulgar humor employed as vehicle of the message. I have to admit I laughed in various occasions (specially during the "Our Father" scene), and I definitely found some ingenuity in the creation of absurd but credible situations (at least in the filthy context of contemporary politics)...however, for every scene that works, there's five or six which only provoke whining, specially due to the tendency the actors show to "play the fool". I think this is a very subjective point in any comedy; but in my personal taste, the humor always works better when the actors take their roles seriously and let the comedy to naturally flow from their attitudes and reactions. When they try to force the laughs with a physical or verbal affectation, they lose spontaneity and, specially, destruct the reality of the characters in order to transform them into caricatures.
And besides of that, I found the screenplay of The Campaign too innocent and predictable, taking a safe route until leading to a happy ending. So, I guess that not all the political satires can be as subtle and effective as Wag the Dog or In the Loop; however, I can give a moderate recommendation to The Campaign as an entertaining comedy, despite not being very memorable.
Basically, Democratic playboy Cam Brady has to verse off against republican every-man Marty Huggins after Marty enters the race against the long-term congressmen Cam at the last minute. This of course leads to hilarious incidents that occur in both parties.
The basic plot line is really effective since the film is not biased and allows for making fun of both parties, which I very much appreciate. Unfortunately, the real issues lie in the acting and writing. Ferrell And Galifianakis really don't get the chance to spread there "wings" in this film. Both have the potential to be hilarious but they never get the chance. Jason Sudeiki's seems very unused as Cam Brady's Assistant Mitch. Again, he does not get the chance to shine in this film. I love John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd but there roles in this film are very unnecessary. They are not really funny or entertaining to watch. This is unfortunate. Jay Roach really tried to make a good film, but I think he picked the wrong actors for this film. He shines in romantic comedies like Meet the Parents but he is trying to hard to make a Will Farrell film. It would have been much better with Adam McKay.
It's not all bad though. The scenes that are funny, are hilarious and make will make anyone with a sense of humor laugh. The film's pacing is very good and the chemistry between Farrell And Galifianakis is just perfect. In the end, if you go in the theater with an open mind and a sense of humor, you will enjoy it. Just don't expect another Step Brothers or Hangover.
Screenwriters Chris Henchy & Shawn Harwell only scratched the surface of the real life hilarity of the current political landscape. All they had to do was turn on any TV news channel and take note of the circus that current politics have become from former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Weiner-Gate to well Sarah Palin, but for Chris Henchy, the writer of past stinkers Land of the Lost and The Other Guys, I guess that is what should be expected.
Will Ferrell (Step Brothers, Anchorman) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) make a fine comedic duo, but their one-note characters leave these candidates without much to say. Ferrell ends up doing a less funny version of his George W. Bush impersonation. His iconic character was a slam-dunk on short SNL skits, but runs thin in a feature film.
The Campaign definitely provides its share of laughs that keep this film above average, but doesn't live up to other classic films produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez production company I.E. Step Brothers, Anchorman, Talladega Nights. The Campaign may end up being one of the most profitable comedies of the 2012 blockbuster season, but compared against the other duds Hollywood barfed out this summer (The Watch, That's My Boy, The Dictator) that isn't saying too much.
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"The Campaign" is a fun and light hearted mockery of modern American politics, but it is also surprisingly real in terms of what could possibly happen in a real election campaign. The plot is funny and really gets me laughing, but I am the most impressed by the emotional ending that conveys a victory to morality. Another thing that really stands out is the Asian maid who speaks with an amazing African and also Spanish accent.
I enjoyed watching this film!
Co-Starring Ferrell (the comedian of yester-year) and Zach Galifianakis (who seemed to be the comedian of the now), The Campaign tells the ridiculous story of the congressional race in the 14th district of North Carolina between two very different politicians. Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a Congressman that has run unopposed for several years and plans on winning another easy election. But he is stunned when Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) comes out of nowhere to announce his candidacy for Congress. Huggins, the son of a rich political father, is brought on to defeat Brady by two political leaders known as the Motch Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) who believe Huggins is the goat they can use to bring cheap Chinese labor to the US.
Quickly, the campaigns turn from an honest race between two men to an all out war between two politicians that will do anything they can to win. And in a film that begins with a Ross Perot quote that says "War has rules, mud wrestling has rules politics has no rules," you can imagine the amount of ridiculous comedy two politicians played by Ferrell and Galifianakis get into.
And while I am sure there is a crowd that will find this film humorous, I rarely did. In an hour and forty minute comedy starring two big names like Ferrell and Galifianakis, I laughed maybe three times, two of which due to how bad the film was. Like I said at the beginning, there is a difference between satire and goofy this is off the wall ridiculous.
Cam Brady may be Ferrell's worst character ever. He is everything we have seen from Ferrell before regurgitated and stuffed into a $3,000 suit. He3 is dumb, crass, and completely unoriginal and uninspired. Sure, there is humor and making a statement about how dumb our politicians are and the extremes campaigns can go to, but having Cam Brady punch a baby in the face, then a dog in the face, and then use a sex tape as a political ad is not clever or funny it is flat out stupid. For anyone to watch it and have any moment of "Yeah, politicians really are dumb," is ridiculous, but seemingly something the writers and filmmakers were aiming at. There seems to be a necessity to make political statements about how dumb politicians are, how corrupt our government is, and the lengths everyone in politics will go to win a race, but it is within a stupid comedy that doesn't ever take itself seriously in its satire.
To read the rest of the review (IMDb form too short) visit: http://custodianfilmcritic.com/the-campaign/