If only Ron Burgundy really did run for office. Do I hear the basis for a sequel…?
When long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center.
If you are going to release an election comedy, the time right before the election would be a perfect time, really. Everybody is basically sick and tired of seeing what these candidates all have to say about themselves, their goals as president, what they think about the other candidates, how much of a wonderful family and dog they have, how they are going to lower taxes, blah, blah, and blah. So you know it’s time for a political satire, especially one with two of the goofiest and funniest comedic actors working right now, right?
You would expect a comedy about politics, being released very slightly before election-time, to have at least some sort of sides to choose or just plain and simple satire on politics themselves, but somehow, you get nothing here from that. Looking at director Jay Roach‘s track record (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, Dinner for Schmucks), I knew that I wasn’t going to get anything that was necessarily considered biting, when it comes to satire department, but I wasn’t expecting something as safe and sometimes, soft like this. What bothered me the most about this flick is that there is so much room for political satire to the point of where you could almost make it up on your own, but for some odd reason, these guys never seem to go for it. To me, this seems like a huge, wasted opportunity that definitely could have given us a smarter look at the politics we see on TV today, but I guess they’re all fine with just settling for being funny.
Actually, this missed-opportunity probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if it wasn’t for the fact that this film definitely isn’t as funny as I was expecting it to be. There’s a lot of those dim-witted, goof-ball jokes that we are used to getting with Ferrell and his movies, but it just seems repetitive here, almost to the point of where Ferrell and co. felt like they ran out of material to joke around about, so they just tried to say the same jokes, over-and-over again but it a new fashion. This starts to get very tiring and actually, very boring, almost to the point of where I was actually looking at my “watch” (code name for phone, but don’t tell anyone) more than anything else on the screen. Which is a total shame because I usually have a ball with these guys, as I did with Dinner for Schmucks, a very underrated comedy, in my opinion.
But for when it did make me laugh, it sure as hell did make me laugh and that’s all I can give it credit for. Some scenes stood-out to me in particular, but the best was probably in the first 15 minutes where Huggins goes around his family-table and allows them to all share secrets that they have hid underneath the table for very, very long, and some of the stuff that just comes out of these people’s mouths are hilarious and dirty. It was a sure sign that I was in for something funny and everything else from the punching-baby sequence, to the vengeful political-ad videos, to the drunk driving incident, all had me laughing enough to say that I had a pretty enjoyable time, even if I feel like there could have been so much more to this material.
The real reason this whole film works is mainly because of the two comedic all-stars in the leads that always seem to give every role they have, their all and these ones are no different. Will Ferrell is basically playing-up the same buffoon he plays in every movie, but this time with a mix of his George W. Bush impression and some of Bill Clinton in there as well. It’s a nice little mix that Ferrell makes work by just being, well, Will Ferrell, and that’s all I really ask for when it comes to him and his comedies. Then, you have Zach Galifianakis as the heterosexual Marty Huggins, that just seems so sweet and nice, but can never catch a break because of Brady is always one-step ahead of his ass. Literally sometimes, too. Zach is always a funny guy and even though he hasn’t had many times to prove so outside of his roles as Alan, he proves that here and gives this Marty Huggins a lot of jeer-full goofiness to him, but not enough to the point of where it’s annoying and campy. Whenever these guys were on-screen together, I laughed my ass off and I sort of wish that they did a better movie to head-line together because this one sure doesn’t live up to what people would most expect from these two comedic fellas.
It was also nice to see Jason Sudeikis play a supporting, goofy role as the straight-man behind Cam Brady, Mitch. Sudeikis is funny, as always, but this time he allows all of the jokes play-out from Ferrell’s side of the equation and it’s nice to see what this cat can do when it comes to comedy, considering I haven’t been all that impressed by this dude as of late. Though, the highlight of the cast is probably Dylan McDermott as the evil campaign advisory, Tim Wattley. McDermott is good with this role because he plays everything with such a stern, serious look on his face that adds so many more laughs to this film, whenever it seemed like Zach and Will weren’t necessarily helping out the situation. What was even better was how they even compared him to Dermot Mulroney during this film, which I thought was funny because I actually thought he would have been a good fit for this kind of role.
Consensus: Though it’s satire never fully takes a bite, The Campaign still features a fun cast and a funny bunch of moments that are worth to see, if only for the two leads themselves.