Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakos

"The Campaign"
Starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakos

     Political satire has existed at least since the time of Aristophanes (446 B.B.) and takes many forms.  Cartoons, novels, newspaper and magazine commentary as well as television and film programming have all been used for this purpose.  In recent decades "Saturday Night Live" has successfully lampooned presidential candidates and other politicians with memorable skits involving Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot and Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, among others.  "The Campaign"  does not target any one particular individual, but instead lambasts the entire political process.   

    This movie is as zany as you might expect from the pairing of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakos.  The story line features Ferrell as incumbent Cam Brady, a U.S. Representative from the 14th District of North Carolina.  Cam is the quintessential airhead with "a $900 haircut" who Ferrell portrays as a combination of his George W. Bush impersonation and his Ricky Bobby character from "Talladega Nights."  Brady is running unopposed until his tawdry affair with a model is exposed.  He made the egregious error of placing an obscene phone call to his mistress which unfortunately, thanks to a misdial, ends up on the message machine of an evangelical Christian family.  A pair of unscrupulous businessmen (Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow) want to elect more candidates who will endorse their profitable Chinese manufacturing enterprise and draft Buddy Huggins, the "odd" son of an associate living in North Carolina (Galifianakos) to run against the now seemingly vulnerable Cam Brady.  The campaign quickly spirals down to mud-slinging, name calling exaggerations from both sides.  There are some truly funny moments such as when Brady can't remember the words to the Lord's Prayer during a debate.  Brady then deflects attention from that miscue by accusing Huggins of being a Communist because of his two pug dogs.  ("Those dogs are Chinese, people.  Chinese!").  Brady's tawdry affair is exploited to the max and he also is arrested for driving under the influence.  The movie also successfully lampoons the media and the reliance on polling numbers.  Marty receives a "two point bump in the polls" after he shoots Brady in the leg during a hunting "accident."   Brady's sex tape promotional advertisement "tests well with men."  Predictably, the movie includes a lot of crude humor and foul language.  The movie also drags a bit and seems like a "Saturday Night Live" skit that just goes on too long.  As slap-stick comedy "The Campaign" is successful, but as meaningful political satire it just isn't.  I enjoyed it and would go to see it again.  If you go to see "The Campaign" though, don't expect a comedy classic.

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