After a major fall in the polls following long-term Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) making a public gaffe, two power brokers (John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd) decide to back a second candidate for the upcoming North Carolina elections. Their choice of the naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), who runs the local Tourism Center, is questioned until the Make Over begins, a Campaign Manager (Dylan McDermott) is appointed and Marty's life and family overhauled. Mud is slung and backs are stabbed, and polls change and anyone is a winner - or a loser.
Review by Louise Keller:
With an opening title card that sets up the film perfectly, we are reminded that in a world of rules (including War and Mud-Wrestling), politics has none. A Will Ferrell flavoured satire zooped up by the added juice of Zach Galifianakis eccentricity, The Campaign provides some easy laughs and a few cutting digs about politicians and their motives.
With its premise of collusion and that money can buy anything, the film predictably dishes out a melee of foul language, outrageous faux pas and some genuinely funny ideas as the Campaign from hell gets underway. The philosophy could well be summed up by the reworked expression: Anything he can do, I can do worse. I chuckled out loud several times, but it was inwardly that I had the most fun; the ridiculous nature of Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell's screenplay with its larger-than-life politician characters builds up nicely with a cumulative effect. Tall, lanky Ferrell and short, squat Galifianakis know exactly what they are doing with their comedy and counter each other well in every way.
We are first introduced to Ferrell's Cam Brady, a cocky pollie with a smarmy personality and uncontrollably frisky promiscuity, about to be re-elected as Congressman for the 5th successive time. As for the smell, as he fornicates in a precariously rocking portaloo, Cam says you get used to it - and he could well be talking about the pong of politics in general. Ratings are healthy until The Phone Call, in which Cam misdials his mistress's number and is heard vividly describing what he would like to do to her on speaker phone in the home of a devout Christian family. As we all know, when polls plummet, the power brokers get to work and here, played by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, they tap on the shoulder of the hobbit-like weirdo, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), who they believe will be persuaded to endorse their wretched plan to sell out to the Chinese.
The Make Over broom is thoroughly swept over Marty and his overweight family, and Tim (Dylan McDermott, terrific) the Campaign Manager tutors the overwhelmed Marty in what to say, what to think and to stop wearing those multi-patterned coloured cardigan knits. I love the scene when Marty asks his wife Mitzi (Sarah Baker) and two dorky sons to share any hidden secrets, in case there is anything to conceal: the revelations begin tamely and escalate and escalate ...)
Not only is the kiss-the-baby joke well executed (Cam swings his left to sock it to his political opponent and hits the baby), but it becomes a running joke when the dog gets it next. But it is not just any dog, it's everyone's favourite dog of the moment from the Oscar-winning film, The Artist. Marty's two Chinese Pugs are quickly replaced by the more politically acceptable chocolate Labrador and Golden Retriever as the political battle gets underway. When Marty publicly steals Cam's son's affection, Cam turns his lustful sights on Marty's wholesome wife, in what becomes an R-rated video. While the contest of self-interest versus the good of the people may not end on a realistic note, the parallels with real life politics pumps up the premise.
Polls rise and fall and loyalties sway as recklessly as a hula-girl's skirt in this short and sharp satire that delivers a quiet rumble of politically incorrect humour - apt for today's political arena without rules.
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CAMPAIGN, THE (M)
CAST: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Sarah Baker, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Scott A. Martin
PRODUCER: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Adam McKay, Jay Roach
DIRECTOR: Jay Roach
SCRIPT: Shawn Harwell, Chris Henchy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jim Denault
EDITOR: Craig Alpert
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Corenblith
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 9, 2012