Predictable ‘The Campaign’ Hinges on Hilarious Newlyweds Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis

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Average: 2.4 (7 votes) Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell makes five new proclamations loud and clear: he’s a comic dream-team duo with Zach Galifianakis in “The Campaign,” punching a baby and then a dog are seriously funny, real-life politics should take a lesson from this over-the-top smear campaign, you need one supporting Korean weapon and there’s nearly no such thing as a 100% comedy that delivers on 100% of its comedy.

Starting and ending with what works best in this “R”-rated comedy, this and any review about “The Campaign” can boil down to this: This film would have flopped without marrying Ferrell with Galifianakis and won’t simply because it did.

Will Farrell as Cam Brady and Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins in The Campaign
Will Farrell as Cam Brady (front) and Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins in “The Campaign”.
Image credit: Patti Perret

If you see this film for no other reason than to witness this duo, these two jokesmiths are as natural together as BOCA burgers for a vegetarian. Seasoned comedy director Jay Roach (“Austin Powers,” “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the “Fockers”) wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Now the film’s most unexpected supporting role is the star of “The Help”. Well, not actually the star of “The Help,” but you’ll first think so any way. Karen Maruyama plays a disgruntled, Korean maid who reluctantly changes her submissive voice at the behest of her employer.

After first surprising you at a front door by being of the pale complexion rather than the dark because of her mismatched voice, she does repeat the gag too much each chance she gets. Still, the always rollicking supporting character helps to fill in the gaps on some misfired funnies.

Zach Galifianakis (left) and Dylan McDermott in The Campaign
Zach Galifianakis (left) and Dylan McDermott in “The Campaign”.
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sarah Baker’s role as Mitzi Huggins – the religious, conservative Stepford wife of the Zach Galifianakis character Marty Huggins – flips the switch on her prude ways by transforming into Cam Brady’s (Will Ferrell) sexual deviant. Though we saw it coming a light year away, the metamorphosis and ensuing political sex ad adds to the film’s hyperbolized nature.

While comic gold mines – such as Camy Brady’s jocular, iron-mouthed baby punch and subsequent dog punch – are admittedly well marketed in advance, this isn’t a film that entirely blows its funnyman load in its 153-second trailer. In other words, you’re not left high and dry once you pay for the full (short) 85 minutes.

In fact, they serve as teasers to a deliciously side-splitting meal that mostly maintains its delicacy throughout while only infrequently pausing to chew on some unwanted fat. But just because a film is as predictable as “The Campaign” most certainly doesn’t make it unfunny.

Jason Sudeikis as Mitch in The Campaign
Jason Sudeikis as Mitch in “The Campaign”.
Image credit: Patti Perret

For a pure comedy that chooses to inject nearly no drama – even a momentary moment of solemn seriousness over booze is interrupted by levity because of its “Cops”-like DUI outcome – a film that goes for 100% comedy 90% of the time yields 80% comedy 100% of the time. (In “The Campaign,” Will Ferrell must have been wearing Paul Rudd’s sex panther cologne from “Anchorman”. Yes, 60% of the time, it works every time.)

Ultimately, the business of politics is serious business, but real-life pols could learn a lesson from this fictionalized ridiculousness – and especially the Marty Huggins TV campaign on all the truth and nothing but the truth in his final hours. Of course, a movie’s mantra is often to take truth to the extreme to entertain the masses through a willing suspension of your everyday belief system.

So it’s by no surprise that “The Campaign” aggrandizes the anything-goes, must-win mentality to get the vote in the film and score the grins from the audience. But while today’s political smear campaigns are merely hateful – and since candidates can’t get elected on their own merits and must resort to cutting down their opposition – doing it with hilarity is one way to engage voters who might not otherwise care about their vote.

Sarah Baker, Kya Haywood, Zach Galifianakis and Grant Goodman in The Campaign
Sarah Baker (back left), Kya Haywood (front left), Zach Galifianakis (back right) and Grant Goodman (front right).
Image credit: Patti Perret

When it’s said you can’t take life too seriously and you’ve got to enjoy it along the way, here’s one facet of society that can stand to relax its buttoned-up suit and let its hair down. The best way to identify with real people is to let voters know you’re a real, flawed person, too.

“The Campaign,” which opens three months before America’s latest presidential election on Nov. 6, 2012, could have harnessed more out of the obnoxiously wealthy Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow duo. Though the usually funny Jason Sudeikis this time falls unmemorably short, the Huggins kids Grant Goodman and Kya Haywood serve up mouth-wateringly priceless dinnertime confessions.

And while the film’s only truly straight-faced role – the deadpan, ninja-like campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) – lends a moment of comic relief, its most merry theme of all is one that’s veiled in restraint: Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins is the gayest married-to-a-woman man you’ll ever meet.

“The Campaign” stars Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, Brian Cox, Karen Maruyama, Grant Goodman, Randall D. Cunningham, Madison Wolfe and Thomas Middleditch from director Jay Roach and writers Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell. “The Campaign,” which opened on Aug. 10, 2012, has a running time of 85 minutes and is rated “R” for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity. publisher Adam Fendelman


© 2012 Adam Fendelman, LLC

ziggy one of the best's picture

The Campaign

I enjoyed this movie because of these crooked pols.

Manny be down's picture

The Campaign

This was a good movie for me because, here in Chicago, the politics are a joke.

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