Chet Greason, Popcornucopia
Just in time for the election in the United States, two heavy-hitters on the American comedy scene are weighing in on the political scene; but instead of addressing the issues currently being debated (if it can be called debate…more like the flogging of dead horses), new comedy film The Campaign aims its barbs at the dirty tactics, corporate sponsorship, and outright lying endemic to the modern political scene.
Will Ferrell plays Democratic Congressman Cam Brady, running unopposed for his comfy North Carolina seat for his fifth term. When a sex scandal hits him in his poll numbers, unscrupulous tycoon brothers the Motchs (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow in a not-too-covert reference to the infamous Koch Brothers) set up Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) on the Republican ticket in order to realize their plans of moving cheap Chinese labour to American soil in order to save on shipping costs.
As the countdown to election day nears, the tactics used by both candidates get more and more outlandish, from sex tapes to baby-punching to the straight-up shooting of one another.
I find these kinds of films are always more funny the second or third time you watch them, but a first viewing of The Campaign had some real laugh-out-loud moments. Ferrell takes his George W. Bush impersonation from his SNL days and mixes it with some John Edwards-style smarminess. Galifianakis plays his effeminate Southerner character, which fans may recognize from some of Zach’s other fare, such as his online interview segment Between Two Ferns, where the character claims to be Galifianakis’ brother.
There are cameos galore, and just about every talking head from the news-entertainment industry weighs in on the fake headlines, from Wolf Blitzer to Dennis Miller to Bill Maher (with a noted absence from far-right pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity).
While the focus is on comedy, including some really funny bits like an Asian housekeeper ordered to talk like more “traditional” Southern help, director Jay Roach does an excellent job of maintaining the underlying call for change.
The ending of The Campaign is bitter-sweet. It seems to say that, no matter the effort, message, or intentions put forth, big money will always find a means to get its way. The film’s solution to this problem seems to be for elected officials to stand fast, act noble, and resist the urge to give in to corporate interests at the detriment of their constituents.
Is this America’s only hope? Because if it is, good luck!
Instead, it might’ve been more uplifting to show a disgusted public, tired of the BS put forth by both pitiful candidates, organize online and submit a third independent candidate which goes on to win the seat. Now there would be an engine for change.
Regardless, The Campaign remains a funny outing which holds the humour to the very end. I look forward to subsequent viewings. I’m sure it’ll only get more funny from here.