The Campaign (2012)
Directed by: Jay Roach
Running time: 85 minutes
Now Showing this week is The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach. In the lead up to the election of a representative for North Carolina in congress, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) faces a challenge that he has never had to face in his entire political career: an opponent. Having been running unopposed for last few elections, Brady is put to the test as he must now prove his worth against Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the flamboyant yet shy manager of the local tourist centre. What follows is the two of them battling it out for public approval through crazy and weird antics of slander and political tom-foolery; but both Brady and Huggins are completely unaware of a more sinister plot unfolding from the hands of their financial backers…
I suppose the first thing I would say about The Campaign is that it ticks all the right boxes for a stock standard comedy. The two leads are oafish buffoons who could never believably be in the situations that they find themselves to be in; the antics of both political parties build in insanity without any realistic consequences behind them such as being arrested; by the end, the main protagonists have learned a valuable lesson relevant to their character flaws; and the film is, overall, funny. Suffice to say, The Campaign works.
However, while the film was getting light chuckles out of me fairly regularly, it only made me properly laugh maybe two or three times. And I thought about what was so different about those particular moments compared to the rest of them and I realised that they were the jokes that spoke about, or made reference to, the political happenings in the US in recent years. The rest of the humour was filled with vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity, and while that is funny in itself, The Campaign didn’t seem to use it with the kind of wit that Ted did earlier in the year. I feel the strength of the film came from its political commentary, particularly when the stupid actions of Brady and Huggins were in fact actual events that have transpired in real life! But these scenes were punctuated with that kind of frat-boy humour one would see in something like American Pie. Don’t get me wrong, these moments were funny, but they were just overshadowed by their political counterparts, at least for me personally.
Acting wise, the film was solid. Ferrell brings his trademark slapstick eccentricity to the role of the womanizing, moron Cam Brady. Galifianakis is unrecognisable from his role in The Hangover films which I appreciated very much. His campy nature, and lovable sensibilities (“I’m going to bring my broom, ’cause it’s a mess!” being a favourite of mine) are entertaining whenever he is on screen. The rest of the cast perform their roles competently, but I’ll make a special mention to Dylan McDermott who plays the crazy, Republican campaign manager Tim Wattley; he was hilarious!
All in all, The Campaign is a decent comedy. It is funny throughout but only rarely achieves greatness. And while those moments of greatness are memorable (“Rainbowland” in particular), I wouldn’t say that the film itself is.
See you next time!