Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins and Will Ferrell as Cam Brady star as opposing candidates in The Campaign.

Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins and Will Ferrell as Cam Brady star as opposing candidates in The Campaign.

Reel Reviews: Film is comedy of political error

The Campaign: "On the surface it’s Zach and Will doing their thing, underneath it’s blunt satire of corporate-run politics."

  • Aug. 17, 2012 8:00 p.m.

Congressmen Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has been North Carolina’s representative for eight years, perhaps only because he’s always run unopposed.

His streak on easy street comes to an end when a billionaire’s odd son, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), is hand-picked by corporate lobbyists to run against him, if only to further their agenda.

Can Congressman Brady win a fair fight? Will his inexperienced opponent survive the public scrutiny and mudraking? Is the film funny, or too much of a statement to be anything but sad?

We say, “On the surface it’s Zach and Will doing their thing, underneath it’s blunt satire of corporate-run politics.”

TAYLOR: I liked this movie, despite it failing to move me to laugh more than once.

HOWE: Hmmm, I laughed a bit more than that. Ferrell had moments of Ron Burgundy’s arrogant, vain character dotted here and there throughout. That’s what made me laugh.

TAYLOR: I thought that there should have been more baby punching and less trash talking. In fact, I think the film would have succeeded better with a 14A rating rather than an R. People laughed at the slapstick, they didn’t laugh at the infidelity.

HOWE: This has to be Galifianakis’s best role to date. He had to act in this and couldn’t just rely on his comic abilities. Whereas, Ferrell, on the other hand, is just doing what he always does, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

TAYLOR: I agree about the acting. Both of these men had to become someone other than their normal character types. Ferrell takes his character to a breakdown that ceases to be funny. Galifianakis seemed to be channeling his oft used “mysterious effeminate weirdo” character, but it worked well and even just watching his walk was funny at times. Still…

HOWE: The Campaign is an intelligent movie. It shows just how corrupt the American political system can be, but it should have touched on more than just the one topic of corporate influence.

TAYLOR: That was what I liked about the film, the not so subtle satire of the relationships between lobbyists, politics, big business and the media. Unfortunately, some of the humour is lost in the sad truth of any good satire. I wished that they had pushed it a bit further into more poignant areas, such as war or health care, rather than just the American economy. Here again the film fell a bit short.

HOWE: I was slightly disappointed in the end. The trailer for The Campaign looked full of promise, hope and truth, but like politicians, the film lets you down.

TAYLOR: Yes, it’s not a bad film, but not very effective either. You go to the booth, you get your chit, you choose your candidates and still, in the end you are fed the same old formula. Ah, art, as in life…

–– Taylor gives The Campaign 2.5 heads in the freezer out of 5.

–– Howe gives it 2 true American dogs out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Morning Star movie critics Brian Taylor and Peter Howe live in Vernon, B.C.