Length: 85 minutes
Release Date: 10 August, 2012 (USA)
Directed by: Jay Roach
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Will Ferrell, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow and Brian Cox
Stars: 3 out of 5
“The Campaign” is a great comedy film with lots of genuine laughs. Jay Roach, famous for his work in “Meet the Parents” and “Austin Powers,” has once again shown the world his talent with his latest movie, “The Campaign.” Unlike many comedy movies that use relationships as their plot, “The Campaign” takes on a political plot.
For a long time now, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has been North Carolina’s congressman. With massive backing from two corporate bigwigs, Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) and Glenn (John Lithgow), Cam Brady has been able to run unopposed. However, the self-centered congressman’s fate changes for the worse as the press uncovers the distasteful and inappropriate voicemail message, intended for his mistress. that he left on the answering machine of a devoted Christian family. Due to the resulting negative publicity, the Motch brothers decide to back another candidate to run against Cam Brady in the upcoming elections. They ditch Brady in favor of the naive and inexperienced Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) who is a God-fearing, married father of two kids. Though Huggins seems naïve and lacks the required skills, it is his dad’s (Brian Cox) influence that makes him a valued character. With massive connections, Huggins’s dad is seen to have the ability to pull funds from bigwig donors. In the spirit of bettering their new candidate’s ability to clinch the North Carolina seat, the Motch brothers hire an experienced political campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). Tim is faced with the doubtful chore of making the short and stout Huggins look incredible in comparison to the tall, well-toned Brady.
As the plot develops, Marty starts to find his image makeover invasive and demanding. In fact, there is a scene in the movie where his dog is replaced with a new breed of dog. Their home is also not left behind as it undergoes unexpected renovation, all in the name of political ratings approval. As much as it is for the good of his political career, Huggins and his wife Mitzi (Sarah Baker) feel quite overwhelmed and inconvenienced by the recent flurry of sudden renovations.
On the other side of the court, Brady’s manager (Jason Sudeikis) has his hands full as he tries to keep his candidate’s career afloat. Though Brady has good experience in the political field, his boss’s track record is full of damaging pitfalls. With a list of misdeeds that range from accidentally punching out a baby to confronting a police officer, it is clear that Brady’s candidacy is a hard sell. Both candidates become engaged in a chaotic grind of accusations and counter-accusations as they try to outwit each other. As the debates and campaigns get more barbaric and insulting, they start to question how far they are willing to go in order to win. It is clear that just like Brady, Huggins is also willing to say or do anything, provided it earns him political mileage.
“The Campaign” has an interesting plot that introduces general crookedness, examines corruption and reveals how certain corporate bigwigs control the political arena from the shadows. A lot of credit should be given to Jay Roach for his ability to create humor from an obviously serious plot. It is fun to watch how Huggins transforms from a naive and inexperienced political underdog to a take-no-prisoners political bigwig.
The casting of practiced comics such as Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell helps develop the humorous angle of the movie. Though Jay Roach is better known for his off-the-wall comedies like “Meet the Parents,” he won a directing Emmy for his movie “Recount,” which focused on the Bush-Gore Florida standoff.
Rowdy, rude and raunchy, “The Campaign” clearly catches the current state of American politics. With such a tempting target, it comes as no surprise that this skeptical movie hits more often than it misses. “The Campaign” will definitely crack your ribs and hold your attention from beginning to end. “The Campaign” easily brings out the satirical pulse while keeping the viewer entertained with lots of humor. It is its use of real life political insanity that makes it an attention-getter. The humor and the worryingly close resemblance to real-life politics make this movie authentic and easy to relate to. “The Campaign” is a smart political spoof that easily resonates with the audience.