Film: The Campaign (A)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox
The Campaign sees prolific man-child portrayers Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis go head to head in a district-level political race for Congressman in North Carolina. Bizarre mudslinging and pandering to demographics ensues. With neither of the two performers having ever been known to let self-consciousness/respect come in the way of delivering their juvenile brand of comedy, the film starts out on a promising note.
The writing, as in the case of any other Ferrell vehicle, is pretty much anti-wit- based, drawing laughs with absurdity that relies heavily on (often obscene) randomness. And for some reason this works at times because it defuses the potentially preachy nature of the subject matter. The immaturity also wonderfully reflects the vacuous nature of political rhetoric that gets flung around.
Engaged in the battle of perceptions are veteran Congressman, the incumbent Democrat Cam Brady (Ferrell) and Republican candidate Marty Huggins (Galifianakis). Ferrell doesn’t put much work into Brady, who’s virtually indistinguishable from his previous characters, espousing the sexism of anchorman Ron Burgundy, the arrogance of NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby and basketball champ Jackie Moon and the infantile nature of Brennan Huff from Step Brothers. Galifianakis, a unknowing tool of evil businessmen Moch brothers (Lithgow and Aykroyd) who field him, plays an effete Ned-Flanders-like well-meaning straight man that could have been painted by Norman Rockwell on acid. With veterans like Lithgow, Aykroyd and Cox, who plays Huggins’ father, the comic-timing is spot on; Galifianakis makes for a great oafish ninny. Ferrell’s delivery is mostly hit-and-miss, side-splitting at best, an awkward spectacle at worst. The deadpanning McDermott – hired by the Motches to make Huggins’s “suck less” as a rogue campaign manager, rises above the limitations of the screenplay to make quite an impact humourwise.
With its simple theme about how political expediencies messes up good people (or people who started out good anyway). The Campaign isn’t biting political satire. But moments of sharp astuteness shine through the crudeness that would make folks, who by no stretch of their imagination consider themselves to be schoolmarms, turn crimson.
For a film which talks about how big (and inherently evil) corporations insidiously influence legislature, among other weighty issues, it makes for a decent watch. Parents however, please note, if you are looking out for a civic studies teaching aide for the young ‘uns, this film probably isn’t it.
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Film: The Campaign (A)
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