On July 15th, 2012, Sean, my brother Paul, and myself waited alongside thousands of people outside Seattle’s Pike Place Market to see Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. It was advertised as a promotional event where Ferrell and Galifianakis would serve coffee to fans. Waiting for hours in the scorching hot sun, Ferrell and Galifianakis only stuck around for about 20 minutes and then left, serving a whopping 25 out of literally thousands of people. It hurt, but there’s no better cure than laughter and The Campaign has filled that coffee-less void of disappointment.
Comedy Heavyweight Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a dimwitted yet beloved North Carolina congressman running for his fifth term unopposed. Meanwhile, corrupt businessmen Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) look for an opening to find a candidate to oppose Brady so that they can “insource” Chinese industry into North Carolina. After one of Brady’s sexually explicit phone messages gets out the Motch brothers strike and select Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) as their unwitting mealticket. Huggins is a sugary sweet yet blissfully ignorant family man that provides a nice contrast to the more crass Cam Brady. What follows is a series of embarrassing media misfires, sexual controversies, and injured babies.
This is actually the third political themed movie from director Jay Roach after Recount and this year’s Game Change. But unlike those two films this is probably a little less insightful. The Campaign is not so much a biting political satire as it’s eighty-something minutes of two socially inept man-boys spouting out potty humor. Some of it works, some if it doesn’t, but nonetheless it’s entertaining. The only thing I could do without are the boring expositional scenes from the film’s stock villains. I’m not entirely sure what Aykroyd and Lithgow are even doing in this movie, aside from picking up a paycheck. A much more interesting villain comes in the form of sneaky campaign manager Tim Wattley played by Dylan McDermott (also the name of character Bryan Cranston played on Seinfeld). Then again this movie isn’t really about the villains, it’s about Ferrell and Galifiankis.
Zach Galifianakis is still fairly new to mainstream audiences but continues to make a case for being a comedy star. His characters have a certain childlike innocence to them that make them hard not to love and he’s a surprisingly rounded actor (no pun intended). As for Ferrell what can I say? As far as I’m concerned he’s never given a bad performance. That’s not to say he’s never been in a bad movie, but I’ve never seen him give any less than 110%. Together they work well and in-turn provide plenty of ridiculously idiotic exchanges for a summer crowd wanting to laugh.
There’s no need to rush out and see The Campaign as it is a fairly by the numbers comedy. The fact that’s it’s R rated gives it a wide range of comedy ammunition, but not all of the jokes hit their mark. Though if you’ve ever liked either Ferrell or Galifianakis I think you’ll vote in favor of The Campaign… Just don’t depend on either of the two to make you a Grande No-Whip Nonfat Mocha.