Review: The Campaign
Having previously aimed his satirical fire at worthy targets such as stock car racing and buddy cop movies, Ferrell now turns it on the trivial and silly world of US electoral politics.
It takes the degraded shallow spectacle and exaggerates its absurdity. It doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know but it does at least do it with belly laughs and hilarity.
Will Ferrell is Cam Brady, a Democrat congressman who is usually elected unopposed in his New Hampshire district but finds himself having to run against Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the idiot son of political heavyweight Brian Cox. He is put up to run by two evil businessmen (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd) who want to sell the district to China and set up a sweatshop on American soil to save on shipping costs.
The argument against The Campaign is that it is just too broad, too crude and too silly to be effective as satire. No doubt you will shun this for the cosy profanities of The Thick Of It, even though it increasingly seems to be as complacent and insular as the political class it attempts to skewer. The Campaign does at least try to address the wider public. Though given its lukewarm reception and box office in the States it must be conceded that it largely fails.
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A problem for the film is that it is not a fair contest. Galifianakis is funny but in those moments when the two leads are given room to go off on wild comic tangents, his are never as natural or as funny as Ferrell's.
As a political caricature, Ferrell's Brady encompasses the whole berth from the focused ignorance of Bush to the boundless amorality of Clinton.
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But beneath that he is really just another of Ferrell's go-getting, over-entitled, all-American bozos; selfish child-men who are so cheerful and filled with bonhomie you don't quite click just how monstrous they are.
The terrible thing is you can see yourself voting for him.
THE CAMPAIGN (15)
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd
Length: 86 mins