Funny Political Mayhem
Although played strictly for laughs, The Campaign hits home during this presidential campaign season. I admit being tired of all the speeches, attack ads, promises and hype – but watching this Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis comedy tickled my funny bone and made me realize even more how silly so much of our political campaigning can be. The Campaign pokes fun at candidates being bought by millionaires as well as how campaign managers take over a candidate’s life, the impact on their families, and the influence the media plays on voters. Both Ferrell and Galifianakis deliver hilarious performances as opposing -- and very different -- contenders in a North Carolina senatorial election.
Ferrell plays Democrat Cam Brady, the brash incumbent, who traditionally wins this contest by running unopposed. Imagine Cam’s surprise when the wealthy Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd) decide to back a Republican candidate in that race. They want a naïve senator in Congress who will support their interests. Who better than Marty Huggins (Galifianakis)? He’s a happy family man who’s almost a joke around town and who would be easy to influence. Marty’s own father (Brian Cox) just shakes his head every time he sees his son.
Enter the campaign manager from Hell (Dylan McDermott), hired to make Marty “not suck.” And the “My Fair Candidate” changes begin, eventually to the dismay of Marty’s wife and children. Dirty tricks become the name of the game. Mud-slinging begins, lies fill the air, and the media reports on everything, including video clips of one candidate punching a baby and a famous animal! Naturally, the sidesplitting attack ads quickly go from bad to worse.
Can either candidate go back to being a real human being instead of a manipulated instrument of power? How will the election turn out? What will happen to the defeated candidate? Believe it or not, this outrageous comedy makes us really care about how things end up for Cam and Marty, despite all their faults. Galifianakis stands out here as a simple guy thrust into a world he knows nothing about. This is his best work ever, in my opinion. He’s absolutely adorable in the first part of the film before politics kick in. And Ferrell gets his share of big laughs, even when his character is being completely obnoxious.
Supporting cast members are also fun to watch. Katherine LaNasa and Sarah Baker deserve recognition for their amusing portrayals of the candidates’ wives. Expressions on their faces are priceless, as the two women react to their husbands’ bizarre behavior -- on camera and off. Surprisingly, it’s McDermott who almost steals the movie by going to the dark side with his wardrobe and creepy interpretation of an authoritarian campaign manager.
The Campaign definitely earns its “R” rating, primarily because of extremely crude language used in many scenes. But the rest of the film is so darned funny! Here’s hoping Ferrell and Galifianakis pair up again in the future.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated “R” for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity.)
For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.
Listen to Katherine LaNasa talk about working with Will Ferrell in The Campaign by clicking here.