Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' 'The Campaign' Is an Ovary-Punching Trip to Pleasure Town
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Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' The Campaign Is an Ovary-Punching Trip to Pleasure Town

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | August 10, 2012 | Comments ()


Jay Roach -- coming off of the Sarah Palin HBO movie, Game Change -- brings us The Campaign, a movie too over the top to be considered successful satire, too vacuous and empty to create any investments in the characters, and too scattered and messy to be considered an actual good film. But it is funny. At times, it's ugly-laugh hysterical. There's nary an ounce of wit in The Campaign, but if you're looking for a movie that will produce snorts of embarrassed laughter, Will Ferrel and Zach Galifianakis' political comedy will do the trick.

The approach taken in The Campaign is not that unlike Anchorman: Ferrell and Galifianakis push the absurdity of a political campaign past the breaking point, then kick the breaking point in its pretty little teeth and while it's bleeding from its mouth, they have sex with the breaking point's mom. Jay Roach forsakes any honest attempt to draw real-world parallels with an actual campaign fairly quickly, taking a brief stop to skewer the false sentiments of empty platitudes of political speeches and advancing quickly toward full-out baby-punching. It's actually refreshing, in a way, that there's no credible attempt to politicize a movie about politics: It's little more than a series of loosely connected gags driven by the manic bluster of Ferrell and the Ned-Flandering of Galifianakis. Indeed, the more The Campaign barrels out of control, the funnier it gets.

Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a sort of beyond-the-pale mash-up of George W. Bush and John Edwards. He's a five-term Congressman in North Carolina running unopposed for a sixth term until he leaves a filthy message to his mistress on the wrong person's answering machine. Spotting an opening, the Moche Brothers -- John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd playing a sort of contemporary Randolph and Mortimer -- decide to enter Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), the hapless and weird son of a famed political strategist (Brian Cox), into the race for the purposes of making him their pawn in a scheme to "in-source" Chinese sweat shops into America (it saves on shipping!). That Huggins is an effete and bizarre man with no political experience and an obese and unattractive family is part of the allure for the Moche Brothers: They see it as a challenge, and immediately hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermot) to turn him into a real political candidate.

It's a quick-paced movie, and clocking in at 85 minutes, Jay Roach doesn't waste any time establishing character or bothering to work his way up to completely absurd. He basically starts there with the baby-punching incident, and Brady and Huggins work their way down the sophomoric hiney-hole, one-upping each other with a series of gags each more outrageously laughable than the last. To reveal them would ruin some of the comedy surprise, but for illustrative purposes, I will say that intentionally shooting your opponent in the leg on a hunting trip polls really well with constituents.

The Campaign is brimming with hilarious moments, Ferrell and Galafianakis make a great comedy duo, and Jason Sudeikis -- who plays Brady's campaign manager -- adds an extra few jolts of waggish hilarity. Still, it's not quite the success of Anchorman or even The Other Guys. The Campaign doesn't really hold together as a movie inasmuch as a skillfully pieced together a series of dumb jokes, but they are dumb jokes that work most of the time. It might have been more felicitous during a political year if The Campaign had made a more subtle attempt to skewer modern politics, but if it had, it wouldn't have produced as many pants-shittingly funny moments. The Campaign doesn't aspire to much more than deliciously raunchy juvenilia, but in that at least, it's a huge success.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Mancrush

    Moche Brothers...Koch Brothers...but this movie makes no political comparisons. I have a feeling this reviewer wouldn't have caught any references if they did lampoon something specific.

  • kirbyjay

    Tim Wattley? TIM WATTLEY??? Does Bryan Cranston know about this?

  • Salieri2

    I just stopped reading the review right here:

    "Ferrell and Galifianakis push the absurdity of a political campaign past the breaking point, then kick the breaking point in its pretty little teeth and while it’s bleeding from its mouth, they have sex with the breaking point’s mom."

    Did...did a Pajiban just use "its" and "it's" correctly? I think...I'm gonna faint.

  • sherlockzz

    Yes, but it's offset by "there" instead of "their". We all make mistakes and spell check can't catch them all but "pants-shittingly funny" is digging below the cellar floor of the journalistic basement.

  • Will Ferrell and 'witless' have become synonymous.

  • MikeRoorda

    I, no joke, just laughed a fart out by accident at work and then proceeded to laugh even harder when someone called me on it. So... yeah I think I can get down with this.

  • Fabius_Maximus


  • Bedewcrock

    also hilarious: watching Galifianakis and Ferrell do promotional interviews.

    Q to Will Ferrell: If you ran for office what would your platform be?
    A: Abolish the death penalty and force prisoners to do press junkets.

  • The Other Guys was terrible. That was a movie I walked out on...how dare you compare it to Anchorman.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Yeah...I didn't think it was terrible, but, 'not as good as The Other Guys,' isn't a thing to put on something that you're trying to praise in any way.

  • KatSings

    Thank Goodness, it's not just me and my husband who hated it!

  • anikitty


  • Nicolae

    Shameless plug. I was an extra in this, and half the reshoots were done because no one could keep a straight face with the things being said.

  • KatSings

    Yay, fellow extra! (Though I wasn't in this, I just mean in general)

  • L.O.V.E.

    I'm an extra too! (Not for movies though, I just mean in general ... like for spare parts ... or blood transfusions .. stood in line for someone at a local Baskin Robbins one time ... man, that was a hot day ... should have gotten some for myself ... but I didn't have any extra change ...)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You should move to DC where standing in line can be an honest-to-goodness profession.

  • KatSings

    "Still, it’s not quite the success of Anchorman or even The Other Guys."

    I turned The Other Guys off about 20 minutes in, that's how much I hated it. If this is less successful than THAT...maybe I should skip it. I was never planning to pay for it anyway, but oof...I hated that movie so much.

  • Wha? The Other Guys was fantastic! :D

  • Maguita NYC

    @c01daf09cf01a8346cae45250fe622b9:disqus That scene killed me! You weren't the only one screaming there are no trees, there are no trees. And then splat.

    There are many scenes like the silent scuffle and more silent trash-talk at the wake, or how Ferrell's bank of tuna will learn how to hunt on land Wallberg's lions, that were just hilarious.

    The movie as a whole was very okay, for a comedy. Even more, it was very okay despite the odd combination of Will Ferrell and Marky Mark. Ferrell was very controlled in this movie, he got out of control only once when he trashed that rich man's office.

    And this is where Ferrell usually loses me, when he gets out of control, giving free reign to his "comedic genius". Which quite honestly, I often find a bit contrived.

  • Jill

    Sad but true: While The Rock and Samuel Jackson fell to their death on the sidewalk I kept yelling at my husband "What trees? What bushes?" Right up until they went splat. It was, I hope, the stupidest two questions I've ever asked. I am rightly mocked for it to this day.
    It was a fantastic film.

  • Naye

    is there something i dont get? because i thought the point of the joke what that you WERE asking where are the trees? where are the bushes? It was even funnier 20 minutes later when you realized they weren't going to bother to explain it lol

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