“The Campaign” – Review by Christian Becker

The Campaign Review

by Christian Becker

Are you sick of politics at this point? Do you feel like every time you turn on the news there’s a story about who’s running for what and why?  A better question is, do you even care? Whether you are a political junkie or not, here comes a funny little break that is sure to shoot your funny bone up with laughs. Every now and then, I have the privilege of seeing a movie a little bit earlier than its release date. This time, I got the chance to see the new summer comedy, The Campaign. A political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rival men running for a seat in Congress from the fine state of North Carolina. Judging from the trailer, this looked like it would be an annoying film. Some funny pats were shown, but it just looked chock full of annoying characters and cheap and easy jokes. That’s how it LOOKED. Then I actually saw it and was surprised with how good of a time I had with it in the end. If you missed the old crazy Will Ferrell doing what he does best (or DID best), then you’ll be happy to see him back and it will hopefully get your blood pumping and your interest racing for the up coming Presidential election in our Nation. Or if you just want to be entertained…I guess that’s alright too.

As I said, just based on the trailer alone, I did not have the highest of hopes for this movie. Sure, I knew it would be funny. The whole “Ferrell vs. Galifinakis” slogan is enough to get you at least a quarter of the way interested. I just couldn’t get past how annoying these characters looked. Both Ferrell and Galifinakis came off as dumb, never destroying beings that had silly accents and just wouldn’t shut up. Luckily, these guys are more than just bearable, but likable too. Galifinakis’s character, Marty Huggins, actually has a greater reason for running in this election and why he wants to win other than the fact that he just feels like it. Which is how the trailer made it sound. Will Ferrell on the other hand, sort of plays another version of Ricky Bobby. He will stop at nothing to win and comes off as a jerk for about 90% of the movie. Yet, he gets most of the best lines and watching Ferrell in one of his “freak outs” is funny enough to still be behind his character and enjoy watching him work. The supporting cast is pretty good, but nothing special to report. With the acception of Dylan McDermott. Holy crap was he hilarious! He plays Marty’s campaign manager who takes his job to a whole new level. This guy basically moves in with the family and acts as a creepy guest who always appears out of nowhere.

The jokes, pretty much all work here. Yes, it is a raunchy flick, but the battle between the two leads becomes so heated that you believe that anything can happen at any moment, no matter how ridiculous.  Sexual situations ensue, but they are done with enough taste to get you laughing. The script does work in terms of it’s humor all the way through. I never thought there was a real dull moment in the film because of the lines of dialogue and the funny situations. You may not find it fun to sit there and watch a debate between two men (or women) discuss the issues facing today’s world. But when that debate is between Ferrell and Galifinakis, you’ll be sucked right in. My only gripe about the way the characters interact are that they seem a bit inconsistent at times. Jay Roch is a pretty great director in the comedy field, but he gets you to flip flop between loving and hating these characters so often that you really can’t form in opinion on them. Cam Brady is a straight up tool for most of the movie, yet there are certain scenes that try and get you to feel for him. But I guess that’s just a reflection on politics in the real world. It changes people to the point of not knowing who you truly are anymore. All Cam knows is the life of a Congressman, and now that that’s being taken away from him, drastic measures are taken.

If you think this only a story about the two leads, think again. There is a side plot involving two business tycoons (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow), who want to sell the land they live on to China so that they can build factories and cut down on shipping costs. If you got bored just reading that, image how much less you will care for it when watching. It’s a small flaw in the story and does bring about some motivation for the candidates, but in the end, you just don’t care about it. All you want is a verbal duel between two outstanding comics. Luckily, the script still has plenty of that in stores even in the rough patches.

The bottom line when talking about a movie like this all comes down to whether or not if made me laugh, and did, A LOT. But it’s really not a stupid comedy either. Sure, you may not have to turn your brain onto high to watch it, but there’s no need to shut it off either. These actors all bring energetic life to their characters and I dare anyone not to laugh when Will Ferrell watches his campaign videos with huge racist excitement or any of his many freak outs. For all you real film buffs out there, there is a special little cameo made by one of the “stars” of the Oscar winning film The Artist. So be on the lookout for that. Is this the comedy winner of the year? Probably not. I still found 21 Jump Street and Ted to be funnier and more well-rounded movies. But don’t let that discourage you from seeking one out. The Campaign is a real summer winner that will slap a gigantic sized smile on your face from opening to ending credits.

I’m Christian Becker, and I approve this movie.

Grade: B+

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