The Campaign is lackluster and disappointing with one bright spot.
PHOTO BY PATTI PERRET
(L-R) Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins and Will Ferrell as Cam Brady in Warner Bros. Picturesí comedy The Campaign.
Will Ferrell knows better.
Political satire is at its best every four years so there is no reason not to bring your A game to a film. Ferrell certainly belongs in the pantheon of great political satire with a killer Dubya impersonation, but falls well short of average in The Campaign.
Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) is running unopposed for a fifth consecutive term. After a bit of dirty laundry is aired (dirty voicemails tend to do that), the Motch Brothers (Jon Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) decide to fund a new candidate (Zach Galifianakis) to serve as a figurehead for North Carolinas 14th District.
On paper, this film is cant miss. Besides the four comedic heavy hitters, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott and Brian Cox also star with Jay Roach and Adam McKay behind the scenes. What the audience gets is a sad and predictable exercise in unfunny.
From face to delivery, the best way to describe Ferrell is bloated. Its not performance or character so much as schtick. Its the Will Ferrell-by-the-numbers that weve seen in Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory and every other film since Stranger Than Fiction. If he plans to follow the Adam Sandler trajectory of craptacular films, it would be nice to know ahead of time.
Galifianakis is the brightest spot in this film he basically gives a clinic on how to make creepy funny. While Marty Huggins is one-dimensional as an effeminate southern belle and doesnt necessarily add depth, Galifianakis commits so hard to every scene, its easy to overlook. Whats sad is that he steals every scene by default.
Team Huggins seems to have out-acted Team Brady in a landslide. McDermott also has a stronger showing than his counterpart, Sudeikis. Known for dramatic roles, McDermotts decision to play his role straight up regardless of plot only shows that Galifinakis wasnt the only one ready to play.
The script is wonky (at best) and (in reality) overbearing. There is no satire to be had in a gasbag of a politician so voter hungry that he inadvertently punches a baby. Puerile is what it is. Going after the Koch brothers (Motch brothers for satire sake) was smart but an opportunity is lost for commentary when they relegate Aykroyd and Lithgow to a second-rate Duke Brothers from Trading Places.
Lackluster and sub-par for the course, imagine what could have been with just a little effort.