The Campaign

Art & Culture

If the measure of a comedy is that it makes you laugh, this is a comedy. Even if that says more about me than the quality of this film. Not a great comedy, but one that is better than most.

Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a smooth arsehole who's been reelected as Congressman for many years, mainly because he's unopposed. He behaves like he's King of the World, because he can do what he likes (women, whisky and whatever), and there's always a job. Except that this time, he's got opposition. Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) is a schlub. His dad and brother think he is, and his family would too, if they weren't schlubs as well. However, his father is rich and powerful, and the family connection is the reason that 2 very rich brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) decide to run him against Brady. They want a tame politician to help them with a corrupt and degenerate plan which will make them even richer.
So chubby little Marty with his pugs, his uncool clobber, and a voice that hardy shouts masculinity, gets a makeover. He is given a handler (Dylan McDermott) and a big budget to spend. He also has the advantage of Cam Brady being a complete idiot, who ends up punching a baby, and (later) the dog from The Artist. He doesn't know The Lord' Prayer, and will run through barbed wire in pursuit of women. He's an accident waiting to happen.
The core of the film is the smackdown between these two, with random lurches of popularity as their fortunes rise and fall. There's pratfall comedy, and potty language comedy, and political satire, and they're pretty funny without being remotely subtle or even original. The ending winds up as the usual sentimental mess, but we all know that endings are the hardest thing to do, and this one looks as though it has very little trouble taken over it. But we're not talking Groundhog Day so let's not be too picky.
My favourite political movie is Bulworth directed by and starring Warren Beatty several years ago. That film had a lot more teeth than this one, but The Campaign does land many low blows on the general corruption and incompetence of contemporary American politics, and the stupidity of the electorate. Much of the humour relies on was once known as bad language and sexual references, but they make me laugh, so what the hell. Ferrell and Galifianakis make a great pair of opponents, and you could do a lot worse for a raucous Friday night than go and see this.

Phil Raby

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