‘The Campaign’ Review: Mitch gets my vote

When Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are put together on screen, it’s a safe bet the movie will generate some laughs. The Campaign fulfills its promise of laughter, but like its fictitious politicians, can’t quite deliver on all the issues at hand.

Photo: Warner Bros.

As I’ve said before, The Campaign is definitely one of the movies in August that I was looking forward to seeing. It sure is nice to sit down and laugh for an hour and a half instead of being on the edge of my seat the whole time for movies like The Dark Knight Rises and The Bourne Legacy.

The movie enters right into the world of congressional candidate Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), and if you’ve seen any of the trailers or TV spots, you already know what kind of guy he is. His sleaze is immediately introduced, which is certainly a contraast to Zach Galifianakis’ Marty Huggins wholesome character, who ends up running against the previously unopposed Brady.

The Moch brothers, two CEOs played by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, decide to fund a candidate they can mold into siding with their corrupt company and buy the election. Marty Huggins seems to be that dimwitted man they are looking for, and they attempt to convince him through Tim Wattley (a sneaky campaign adviser played by Dylan McDermott) to become the congressman they want him to be. The competitive will to win causes both candidates to engage in mudslinging, attempting to outdo the other with every step. However, with betrayals happening on every end, Cam Brady eventually withdraws his name after his wins so that the man supposedly more deserving of the job, Marty Huggins, can take his place in Congress.

Photo: Warner Bros.

This movie has some great comedic actors, so it definitely delivers on the laughs. From Marty’s apple pie demeanor to Cam’s punching accidents, there are a lot of things to chuckle about; simply listening to Zack Galifiankis speak is laugh-inducing in itself. What brings a lot of the jokes down is the lewdness.

A lot of the jokes seem to be vulgar for vulgarity’s sake. Many of the scenes would have been just as funny had they cut out a lot of the obscenities and sexual remarks and gotten a little more creative with their words. Some jokes also went on a little too far, and seemed a bit obvious. How many inappropriate phrases can these kids get away with saying? It’s funny and all when kids say the darndest things, but not so much after about 10 of them in a row.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Most of the characters were also pretty much unlikable. Despite Marty’s wholesome personality, he eventually is turned into a political animal who does some harsh things to sabotage Cam’s campaign. The character I actually rooted for was Cam’s campaign manager, Mitch, played by Jason Sudeikis. He leaves Cam when things go awry, and sticks by him in the end when Cam turns his attitude around. He’s got my vote.

However, the movie shows how anyone can be twisted into a monster when thrown into a political race, possibly offering some commentary on today’s issues. The Motch brothers are the archetype corrupt, rich villains (reminiscent of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Trading Places), but the subtle villainy comes through in the rest of the characters they use as puppets.

We shouldn’t dig too deep into this political comedy, as it is just that – a comedy. Although there are several overused jokes that make me cringe, there are definitely more that make me laugh. The Campaign is a solid Will Ferrell comedy made sweeter by the presence of Zach Galifianakis, but fails to transcend to a level of realism and character likability to help the audience become fully invested.

The Campaign Grade: B-

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