Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Bryan Cox
Cinematography: Jim Denault
I have to start out by saying that I am not a fan of politics. While I’m well aware that it’s my civic responsibility and that the people who are voted into office directly impact my life, I still can’t muster the strength to care. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys fierce political debates – I’d much rather talk movies for hours on end. The beliefs that I hold are not always backed up by facts and figures, it’s just how I feel. That being said, I was not immediately drawn to The Campaign as a good choice for a movie. While it looked funny in the trailers, the fact that it deals with politics when we’re so close to the election was a serious strike against it. Will Ferrell is another reason not to pay the money for the ticket. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of many of his movies (Anchorman, Old School, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights…) but lately his comedy has gotten a little old. I sort of stopped watching anything with Ferrell in it after Step Brothers turned out to be terrible. But when my sister wanted to go see The Campaign, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to visit my favorite place in the world. So with the ticket in my hand and almost zero expectations that this would be a good and original movie, I settled down to watch two great comedians (hopefully) work some magic.
Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has an election coming up. He’s been running unopposed, merely signing his name on the ballot is enough to get him into office. But after his sexual messages to his mistress become public knowledge, people are scrambling to replace him. Enter in Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the weird second son of a political powerhouse who will be loyal to the big corporations who can help his small town home. When these two start to campaign for the win, it gets very dirty. Will the slightly feminine tour guide Huggins be able to score enough favor to take down the ridiculously idiotic Brady?
The only other movie I’ve really seen Zach Galifianakis in is The Hangover. His character is pretty memorable for being awkward and hysterical. I sort of expected that, like Will Ferrell, I wouldn’t be able to watch him as Marty Huggins without thinking about Alan from The Hangover. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Alan doesn’t make an appearance - Marty is a totally different character. I’m sure shaving off his signature beard had a little something to do with that. But it’s more than the absence of facial hair; it’s in the way he moves, the little feminine voice he uses, and in the way he bonds with his wife and kids (instead of the Wolfpack). I also find it really cool that he was born in North Carolina (he’s from Wilkesboro), and even wears an East Carolina University jersey during the film. While the portrayal of North Carolina residents isn’t really flattering (considering I live there and don’t vote for idiots to run the place), it’s still fun that he’s a former resident.
You can see a glimpse of some of the funny parts in the trailer, but that doesn’t really cover how hilarious the movie is. What surprised me the most is how absolutely raunchy it got. Being a relatively educated college kid, I’ve heard some pretty disgusting things (and laughed at most of them). But my jaw was literally on the floor from some of the stuff that was coming out of Will Ferrell’s mouth. If that’s the kind of thing that would offend you, you probably will not enjoy the movie at all. While Marty Huggins and Cam Brady are at each other’s throats during The Campaign, it is a wonderfully fun time. Be prepared to have your cheeks hurt from smiling.
The Supporting Cast
It’s not just Ferrell and Galifianakis who shine in The Campaign. They also have some really funny campaign managers who get a lot of laughs. My favorite was Jason Sudeikis as Mitch, who sticks by Cam Brady even when things get a ridiculous. He’s got a great Southern accent too. Dylan McDermott plays the very scary Tim Wattley, the guy hired by the corporations to get Marty Huggins into political shape. His no nonsense approach to some very funny lines is awesome. They definitely help support the greatness of Will and Zach, only adding to the comedy.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was certainly expected. It’s a Will Ferrell movie, and in it Will Ferrell does what he does best – plays the same sort of character that he has made so popular. Cam Brady is a mixture of Ricky Bobby’s accent (from Talladega Nights), Chazz Michael Michaels’s sexual confidence (from Blades of Glory), and Ron Burgandy’s public persona (from Anchorman) with some modern day politics mixed in. The character certainly has it’s moments where I am happy to see Ferrell’s brand of comedy. But it’s not anything that I haven’t seen and laughed at before. The Campaign was at least better than Step Brothers in my opinion. That probably has more to do with the teaming up of Ferrell and Galifianakis, a pair who really work well together.
The Overly Sentimental Ending
While Huggins and Brady are campaigning for glory, the movie moves along at a perfect pace of raunchy dialogue and funny physical comedy. The two politicians back stab each other and it feels so good, they are at their best when they hate each other. But instead of continuing this hilarious mutual animosity, the two end up working together. The whole ending of the movie gets a little too sentimental and neat – especially when you compare it to the rest of the show. After everything that happened between Brady and Huggins it’s a little implausible that they would become allies. I don’t think they should have wrapped everything up so pretty and sweet at the end. The last half hour of the movie wasn’t as laugh out loud hysterical as what came before it. It’s definitely a weird way to end a comedy.
Overall: 4 0ut of 5 stars
The Campaign is definitely a great comedy that will have you laughing. Will Ferrell may be playing the same guy he always does, but considering how funny he is it’s not that big of a deal. The predictable happy ending doesn’t change the fact that the rest of the movie is absolutely hilarious. Even the fact that it deals with politics doesn’t take away from how much I enjoyed it. Hopefully this film won’t make you think the people of North Carolina are over sexed idiots with questionable morals and dirty mouths. Even if it does make you think twice about visiting, it sure is fun to watch these NC politicians duke it out for the win. I’m certainly going to be voting to keep anyone who acts like them out of the office, but in the box office they are definitely a hit.
The Campaign Trailer