'The Campaign' paradies election trail
By Suzie Setzler and Krysti Peacock
"The Campaign" is a comedy that pokes fun at the political arena and cut-throat campaigning that entails on the trail leading up to Election Day. Funnymen Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis play candidates vying for a seat in a Congressional election in North Carolina. Cam Brady (Ferrell) is the over-confident yet ingratiating incumbent who avoids the important issues, while naïve and malleable tourism director Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) is the newcomer with fresh ideas to make his hometown a better place. But soon after Brady's first attempt to defile his reputation, Huggins allows Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to make over his life, transforming him from a soft-spoken, do-gooder to a rough-talking opponent who just might have a shot at beating the uncontested Brady from winning his fifth term.
It's worth noting that McDermott played the militant campaign manager with finesse and a seriousness that made him utterly hilarious while we felt that Tim Sudeikis, who played Brady's campaign manager Mitch, was completely underused. We would have loved to see more of his comedic contribution.
As with any political race, the mud-slinging ensues with dirty tricks, devious tactics and back-and-forth criticisms, which make for some humorous scenes as is expected of these lively opponents who throw punches and punchlines. Mocking everything from catchphrases and their take on "kissing" the baby, each candidate tries to slander the other often backfiring in the process. Who knew that a sex tape -with the other candidate's wife - could actually boost rating points? And they even have the billionaire Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) as the power brokers feeding an endless supply of funds to make Huggins their puppet for their own greedy gain. The script imitating real life - can you say Koch brothers- seems completely intentional while the over-the-top parodying scenes are taunting and entertaining.
What gives this film more merit is that it was directed by Jay Roach, who has proven his mastery of the comedy genre with such hits as "Meet the Parents" and the "Austin Powers" trilogy while also directing highly acclaimed HBO political dramas depicting real-life events with "Recount" and "Game Change." It's the best of both worlds and Roach brings it home!
Although it may not have scenes with tear-inducing laughs and the humor sometimes bordered on the awkward, it manages enough comedy to make it an amusing take on politics. And who doesn't need a laugh with the real-life drama of government during an election year with overspending, palm-greasing and money-hungry politicians who mean well but may not always find their way. Let the sign-waving commence!
Will Ferrell - Cam Brady
Zach Galifianaki - Marty Huggins
Jason Sudeikis - Mitch
Dylan McDermott - Tim Wattley
Katherine LaNasa - Rose Brady
Sarah Baker - Mitzi Huggins
John Lithgow - Glenn Motch
Dan Aykroyd - Wade Motch
Karen Maruyama - Mrs. Yao