2 1/2 stars
While elections and holding office in this country have become more about entertainment than say, issues, the opposite on the movie satisfaction meter may not be true. And spoofing really dark matters in a political comedy like The Campaign by conceiving them as fluff on the lighter side, just doesn’t seem to do.
Strategizing for victory at the box office is Campaign director Jay Roach (Borat, Meet The Fockers, Dinner For Schmucks), and small screen scribe Chris Henchy – whose not necessarily relevant claims to fame dare I say, count titles like Eva Longoria Sex Tape, and The Navy Seal Who Killed Osama Bin Laden. And they’ve concocted a silly bordering on brutally wacky election showdown that is not as much about Democrat versus Republican in that political mutation in this country best described as a two-headed one party system. But rather a Hollywood blue state jab against red state regional lunacy, even if all the action plays out in North Carolina.
Butting heads in The Campaign as rival Congressional candidates, are Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as Cam Brady and Marty Huggins respectively. Brady is a brash longtime incumbent, whose repeated wins have imbued him with a cocky sense of entitlement and overly confident attitude that have landed him in scandalous sexual situations.
At the same time, two conniving billionaire multinational sibling tycoons, Wade and Glenn Motch (Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow) are conspiring behind the scenes to transfer their manufacturing operations from China to North Carolina to save on product shipping costs – a scheme which they proudly term ‘insourcing.’ Koch Brothers, anyone?
And after sizing up Brady and his disreputable track record as too big a risk, the brothers track down and groom a novice, unsullied candidate from outside the realm of politics. Enter Marty Huggins, the meek local head of tourism and model family man, who is pestered into the race virtually against his will and way outside his habitual comfort zone.
But as wildly flaky a duo Zach and Will may be when tossed together in a comedy like The Campaign, the movie is burdened by a lot more than the frenzied election at hand. That is, how to mine humor out of what is no laughing matter, regarding the dismal state of US politics and all its many bleak, ineffectual ramifications during this period of economic downturn.
Though the real contest at hand may not be between the two warring candidates at all. But rather, how the movie’s own campaign will shape up against its biggest rival – The Bourne Legacy opening in theaters the very same day this week.