Monday, August 20, 2012

The Campaign

Prior to leaving the country for a few weeks on business, I made it a point to go see the new comedy, The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. I’ve been a fan of both for quite some time, and their team up seemed like a guaranteed comedy success; not only that, it starred my favorite actor, Brian Cox, so for me it was a must-see movie.

For those who don’t know much about Jay Roach’s latest comedy, IMDb describes the premise of The Campaign: “In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man: naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.”

The timing of the film couldn’t have been better, intentional as it was, given the political subject matter and upcoming presidential election. In the film, the election isn’t for the Oval Office, but you wouldn’t guess it as the race for a North Carolina district is just as tense. The story concerning why the two must campaign is a little weak and not properly fleshed out, but the real reason people will want to see this movie is for the comedy.

In that regard, the film is like a tank half full—it’ll get you there, but not by firing on all cylinders. The Campaign has its fair share of laughs, and some good ones at that (i.e. an unorthodox maid with a funky accent), but it wasn’t the full-fledged comedy I was expecting. It wasn’t raunchy and outrageous like The Hangover, nor was it unapologetic like Anchorman and Talladega Nights; instead, it was on par with other Roach comedies like the Austin Powers, Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers, and Dinner for Schmucks.

I really liked the Austin Powers flicks, but I didn’t care too much for Dinner for Schmucks. With that said, I would put The Campaign on the same level as Meet the Parents—somewhat serious at times, but riddled with comedic one-upmanship.

Ferrell portrays the aforementioned Brady and Galifianakis tackles Huggins as the two battle for political supremacy. Surrounding them are a varied cast of supporting characters rendered by Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd and of course Cox.

Both Ferrell and Galifianakis do a decent job delivering jabs and taking turns as heroes and villains. Ferrell was a little more mature than I’m used to, but it was satisfactory nonetheless. Meanwhile, Galifianakis, who shaved his trademark beard for the film, walks the fine line between annoying and adorable as Huggins.

On the other hand, the supporting cast was a mixed bag. Lithgow and Aykroyd were grossly underused as the brother CEOs fueling the mean-spirited campaign. Likewise, Sudeikis was way too straight-laced as Brady’s campaign manager.

On the flip side, McDermott hit it out of the park as Tim Wattley, a mercenary campaign manager brought in to make a winner out of Huggins—and later Brady. I like to give credit where credit’s due, and McDermott certainly deserves it as I literally laughed out loud at most of his scenes. Regarding Cox (pictured above), my opinion is that he was underused and should have played a more prominent role, but of course I’m going to say that given he’s my favorite actor. With that said, he played a convincing non-paternalistic scoundrel in his limited role as Huggins’ father.

I’ve always enjoyed political comedies; in fact, My Fellow Americans with Jack Lemmon and James Garner is one of my favorite movies. The Campaign didn’t make as big an impact as that film, but I did enjoy it and feel I got my moneys worth.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 67%

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