“The Campaign” …It’s a Mess.
It’s all too easy for Will Ferrell when he can walk on comedic water. After several movies of poking fun at NASCAR, news anchors, soccer coaches and basketball players, he has turned his sights on politicians. The guy has had some hits with his brand of outlandish humor, but this time out he has slipped in the polls quite a bit.
The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Dinner for Schmucks), takes a comedic look at how money runs elections. Cam Brady (played by Ferrell) has had four terms as a North Carolina Congressman based on three words – “America, Jesus and Freedom.” Those words have lost all meaning to him, he just wants to play politician for a fifth term. Before he runs for office again he has some personal issues to overcome. He misdials a phone number and leaves a sexually laced message for his mistress on a Christian family’s answer machine. Even running unopposed, this means bad news forCam.
In the meantime, two entrepreneur brothers Glen (played by John Lithgow) and Wade (played by Dan Aykroyd) are trying to get a politician to support their initiative to bring a Chinese sweat shop to Cam’s North Carolina district. They need to find a patsy to run for them. Luckily their patsy comes in the form of Marty Huggins (played by Zach Galifianakis). Galifianakis and Ferrell didn’t have to invent new characters to earn their paychecks this time around. Ferrell used his George W. Bush impersonation from his Saturday Night Live days. While Galafianakis used his alternative “is he gay or is he just a really nice, affectionate man” Galifianakis character from Live at the Purple Onion and Between Two Ferns.
Marty is too nice to win at dirty politics. So, the brothers hire Tim Wattley (played by Dylan McDermott) to be the tough guy campaign manager. He whips Marty and his family into shape to become a lean, mean politicizing machine. They take Cam on full force using a little bit of dirty pool to get the job done.
While Marty is gaining in the polls through his nice guy turned tough guy routine using his slogan “…it’s a mess” to clean up congress Cam is slowly slipping after making several mistakes such as punching a baby, getting arrested for driving drunk and punching Auggie, the dog from the movie The Artist.
Well … that’s enough; the jokes started off strong, using tons of cursing and forced sexual content to get the show started; but punching a baby and a dog from a totally unrelated movie? C’mon guys. It seemed as if the writers got to a point and just started throwing darts at a board hoping something would stick. It seemed all over the top for a few giggles. The story stopped being a political satire and started to become a sophomoric comedy of hit and miss jokes.
Marty does something totally unexpected for a politician and tells the truth about himself on Election Day then loses the election. But there is a twist at the end to make everyone happy.
Should you see this movie? Skip it. Ferrell is now stealing from his own movies; in this case, it was Talladega Nights. He took the formula of a celebrity’s fall from grace and his redemption to get back on top. We have seen it before, just like we have seen kids cursing up a storm at the dinner table and Ferrell’s screaming tantrums.
If you have not seen a Will Ferrell movie yet this might get more laughs from you. For the rest of us there is nothing new here folks, go cast your vote for another candidate to make you laugh.