DVD Release Date: October 30, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: August 10, 2012
Rating: R (for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity)
Run Time: 85 min.
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox
Editor's Note: The following review contains references to this movie's profane subject matter. Parents please be advised.
Considering there’s only 87 days left until the 2012 Presidential election, and everyone’s already suffering from non-stop news coverage and annoying campaign commercials that practically play in a loop, the timing is right for some light satire about the more ridiculous aspects of the process.
And in the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis comedy The Campaign, there are indeed a few well-placed jabs (sometimes literally) at the reality show circus that’s become the race to the White House. Ultimately, however, any sophisticated insight is lost amid the jokes, 90 percent of which scrape the absolute bottom of the barrel.
That’s probably not a huge surprise to anyone familiar with Ferrell's work. But for some reason, and maybe it’s because it takes so much more to shock us in our post-Hangover world, the humor is in even poorer taste than, say, anything in Step Brothers or Anchorman. While a couple of forty-somethings, Chris Henchy (The Other Guys) and Shawn Harwell (TV’s “Eastbound & Down”) are credited with penning the script, the punchlines seem more like the handiwork of pimply faced seventh graders engaged in lowbrow locker room conversation. Henchy and Harwell are definitely no Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart in the political satire department. Even your average Onion writer has more finesse.
As for the plot, it’s basically just an excuse for Ferrell (Semi-Pro) and the far-funnier Galifianakis to one-up each other as political rivals. Borrowing a page from his famed George W. Bush “Saturday Night Live” impression, Ferrell sports another exaggerated Southern accent as Cam Brady, the incumbent congressman of his particular North Carolina district. Since he’s run unopposed for years, he’s learned how to make his constituents happy: primarily by weaving the words “America,” “Jesus” and “freedom” into every one of his campaign speeches, even if he’s not quite sure why that elicits such a favorable response.
And now that Cam’s become the veritable shoo-in, he enjoys testing the boundaries of good taste by routinely cheating on his wife, losing touch with the locals by unabashedly loving excess, and generally acting like a giant buffoon. But all his bravado catches up with him when Cam leaves a sexually charged voice mail for his mistress on the wrong answering machine. Now that he's in hot water for the first time in his career, a couple of opportunistic election riggers known as the Motch (as in “Koch”) Brothers are determined to leverage this turn of events to their utmost advantage.
Enter Galifianakis (Due Date) as Marty Huggins, the well-meaning doofus who screws up so often his own father doesn’t even love him anymore. As part of a prominent political family in Brady’s district, however, Marty is determined to finally make good. But as Marty posseses a high-pitched voice only a mother could love, a simpleton’s approach to life and a wardrobe full of unflattering Mom jeans, Cam still believes the Congregational seat is his for the taking, sexual scandal or not.
As the proverbial fish out of water, Galifianakis does provide a few belly laughs you won’t feel sick about later. But that’s not enough to redeem a story that doesn’t succeed on a variety of levels. In fact, there are few genuine surprises in The Campaign as Marty tries to prove he’s the right man for the job. And while there is the odd parallel to the current political climate, these moments are all but forgotten when yet another jaw-dropping crack involving sex or bodily functions makes it way in.
In a weekend where there’s far better entertainment options at a theater near you, The Campaign doesn’t deserve your vote.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and smoking depicted in several scenes. A man claims he’s feeling “very high."
- Language/Profanity: The full range of profanity is used throughout—multiple uses of the “f” word, sh--, dic-he--, as-, as-hol-, plus countless crude references to male and female anatomy and instances where God’s name is taken in vain. Marty’s son confesses to taking the Lord’s name in vain once.
- Sex/Nudity: Cam and his mistress are shown having sex in a port-a-potty (no nudity but explicit movements are shown). A couple having sex is shown on TV (no nudity, just making out), and the girl requests that he “does her from behind.” Cam leaves a nasty sexual message on the wrong answering machine that involves talk about erections and licking each other’s bu---oles. Marty’s young son says he let a goat lick his penis at the petting zoo. Marty’s even younger son admits that he touched a woman’s breast (he uses the far nastier word, t-t). A woman says she masturbates. Cam’s kids listen to a song with lyrics about ti-s and as-es. A woman’s nipple is shown hanging out of her shirt. She’s oblivious, but everyone around her immediately notices it. A man decides to take a picture of her. Extensive discussion of bodily functions and grooming in the genital area.
- Violence: All of the violence is supposed to be of a comedic nature. Cam is bitten by a snake, and his arm blows up significantly. He also starts to hallucinate from the venom. A baby is punched several times by a certain candidate. A cow is hit on the road by mistake. A man is shot in the leg by a rifle.
- Religion: Cam knows it’s politically advantageous for him to mention Jesus, so he does so even though he’s not sure why. He also describes himself as a Christian, but his lifestyle, which includes regularly cheating on his spouse, suggests his devotion is lukewarm at best. While trying to recite the Lord’s prayer, Cam messes up the words in nearly every sentence, and his campaign manager tries to help him out with very lewd hand gestures and pantomime, particularly in the line “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Publication date: August 10, 2012