“The Campaign” Movie Review


     Will Ferrell has been out of the mainstream film spot light for a couple years now and was probably looking for a good warm up before next summer’s “Anchorman” sequel.  There’s no doubt he found it with the laugh a minute film “The Campaign”, in which he stars with Zach Galifianakis of “The Hangover” movies.  The pairing of these two is nothing short of genius, especially considering the story pits the two against each other as candidates in a North Carolina Congressional race.  I have to figure Ferrell and fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis, who stars as Ferrell’s campaign manager, sat for hours at their former employer’s studio and thought about how good their political sketches could be if there weren’t any television boundaries.  Well now they know, as “The Campaign” is a raunchy good “R” rating and rivals “Ted” as the best comedy of 2012 thus far.

     Both Ferrell and Galifianakis have starred in their fair share of duds in the past and their presence is no guarantee of a laugh fest.  The talent behind the camera always proves to be equally as important, so having director Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents”, “Austin Powers”) at the helm seems to create the right set of ingredients for a hit.  With the film playing as the current election season starts to hit its stride, its no surprise many of the issues the real politicians are currently debating play center stage in the plot.  The big mistake would’ve been to try and send a message and use the film’s story as a spring board for someone’s political agenda.  No worries here.  “The Campaign” never takes itself seriously, but I have to say the most extreme antics aren’t that far off from many of the real life scandals we’ve seen in the news over the years.  You know what they say.  This stuff doesn’t always write itself.

     Will Ferrell plays incumbent Congressman Cam Brady, who has run unopposed for four terms and is looking to do the same for a fifth term.  Two rich CEOs called the Motch Brothers, played by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, want to influence Brady’s district into building a factory that would be staffed by Chinese workers.  In real life we always hear about jobs being “out sourced”, the Motch Brothers playfully call this “In sourcing”.  In order to accomplish this, they throw millions into the candidacy of Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), who is the unfavored son of a local rich businessman.  Huggins runs a tour business of his local town and has no political experience.  He’s quickly whipped into shape by Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), who transforms Marty and his family into stereotypical candidate mode.

     Brady and Huggins spend the majority of the film in verbal (and sometimes physical) sparring matches, each trying to out do the other no matter what the cost.  The political television ads shown in the film are priceless.  In one of them, Brady accuses Huggins of being a member of the Al-Qaeda simply because he has facial hair, pointing to the fact the media and television ads can say anything about someone and it will be believed by many.  The comic dialogue through out is hilarious and well written.  Ferrell is clearly channeling his old George W. Bush impression from SNL and I’m not sure what Galifianakis is trying to do, but it works.  Credit writers Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell for giving all of the characters consistently funny things to say and also credit Roach for the impeccable comic timing. 

     “The Campaign” is another comedy, like “Ted”, that doesn’t spoil all of its best scenes in the trailer, which is a mistake often made.  I’ve become so leery of this that I end up going into comedies these days with very low expectations, and to a point this probably helped “The Campaign” in my eyes.  To rate this against the very best comedies of all time wouldn’t have this film fare as well, but it clearly stands as one of the best of 2012 and certainly qualifies as a good time at the movies. GRADE: B