It’s an election year folks and that means that everything you can imagine is attached to some form of political allegory. There are a couple of strong political dramas on television (scandal, political animals) and just about every commercial break on any show features some ad by a lying ass candidate…or features their approval. Enter Will Farrell, here to show you how ridiculous the whole political process is by getting even more ridiculous in his latest film, The Campaign.
Farrell plays lead character Cam Brady, a 5th term Congressman from North Carolina. Brady is a mish mosh of the most cliché and outlandish behavior we observe from our elected officials: aloof, seemingly immune to the real world and ready to spin ANY bad news. He reduces every issue to catch phrases such as his patented “America, Jesus and freedom.” No necessarily in that order. A scandal puts his polling numbers in the toilet but have no fear, he’s been running unopposed for years…until now.
Koch Brothers analogue the Motch Brothers (Dan Akroyd, John Lithgow) hatch a fiendish plot that depends on a political patsie and in Brady’s moment of weakness, they find someone to run against him. No name schmuck Marty Huggins (Zach Galafinakis), a pudgy family man who runs a tourism company in the small town but whose father is a wealthy man and Motch brothers associate, is selected as the puppet candidate and assigned a hardcore and seedy campaign manager, played with exceeding creepiness by Dylan McDermot.
What comes next is a series of oneupsmanships (or downsmanships as it were) that run the gamut of disrespect, dirty tricks and the very worst of political wrangling played out in a fashion that smacks of ridicule but is hauntingly close to reality, despite the campiness. Not even family is off-limits as the candidates go all out for victory.
There is traditional Farrellian comedy that is just gutbustingly funny. Babies and dogs get punched in the face, although I’m sure neither were harmed in the creation of this movie. The comedy here isn’t for kids, even though the kids in the movie are pretty funny. I have three words for you: Ass and Titties. Unfortunately, because of the underlying attempt at political allegory and the attempt to deliver a message, it isn’t as funny as his normal stuff and doesn’t go as all out as Will Farrell’s movies normally go. That limit is necessary to maintain the integrity of the message, but the targets of the movie are so clear and blatant that the barbs lose their sting.
The Campaign is a nice diversion movie. It exists in a space that is too silly for serious satire, but has too much of a message to treat like Step Brothers. The comedy is not for kids as there is a lot of sex reference, but you will laugh and probably groan when they attempt to sneak in some kind of message regarding politics, capitalism and the foolishness of voters. Consider this film a win but not a referrendum.
Out of 5
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