When political rivals meet in the heat of battle we are normally treated to well staged lies and political stunts that seem so trivial. The Campaign pushes these notions to their absurd endpoint. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star as two battling politicians who are willing to put it all on the line just to call themselves one of the few in Congress. The Campaign is a not just a slap stick comedy but surprisingly it has a very astute message.
Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is a seasoned political veteran, when he is forced to go head to head with Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) his entire career is put in jeopardy. When we first me Cam he recites his favorite catch phrase over and over to himself, “America, Jesus, Freedom.” When asked why he says that, he responds, “I have no idea but people love that shit!” Right there I knew director Jay Roach had a little more of a clever approach than what we saw in the trailers. The movie basically banks on the notion that large money interest have massive influence over politics, both local and national. When Marty Huggins, a local tour guide, is asked to run against Brady by two wealthy brothers named Glen and Wade Motch (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) he thinks he finally has hit big time. He is of course being manipulated by the brothers who share a clear comparison to Charles and David Koch. So hilarity ensues and we get baby punching, insane campaign ads, trash talk, and political rallies that were full of your cast of standard political characters. From the guy yelling about secret ties to China to discussions on whether a candidate believed in socialism in 2nd grade. While these concepts seem so silly they work more as an example of how far American politics have truly gone off the deep end.
The first half of the movie was a standard raunchy comedy that we have come to expect these days. Kids saying hilariously rude things and people put into absurd and awkward situations, all run of the mill. I laughed continually throughout and the jokes were genuine unlike Ted, for example. The second half pivots and examines what politics have become and how they are influenced. While the jokes are still there you can tell Roach wanted to make a sticking point for the audiences. He was aiming for that drive home conversation after watching The Campaign. The laughs and punches were just to get you in the door, and it worked beautifully. The pivot isn’t so outrageous that people will be off put by it, but it’s certainly obvious. The movie never gets to preachy either, just lays out its message for even the lay to understand.
All in all, the acting was serviceable and there were no huge standout performances. However, what we did get was a movie that was trying to entertain and educate us. There aren’t enough movies like it so for that I am grateful. The Campaign is a genuinely funny movie, and you will come out of it happy you spent the money. While not as strong as 21 Jump Street, The Campaign takes its rightful seat in second place for comedies this year.
We will talk spoilers and more details on this week upcoming episode of The Nerdpocalypse podcast
image via collider.com