By: Shannon Tesser
From the first minute all the way through to the credits I laughed hysterically at the new Will Ferrell feature length film, The Campaign. It’s definitely not going to have the same effect on society as Anchorman, it will not be quoted endlessly and have sound bites played on a daily basis on The Power Trip Morning Show, but it was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend 87 minutes.
The Campaign is the story of Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) running unopposed for his fifth consecutive term. After a scandal involving a fairly religious family (featuring Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock) and a racy phone message meant for the congressman’s girlfriend, Brady’s approval rating drops. The billionaire industrialist Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd) decide to bring in their new puppet, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) to run against Brady. Marty Huggins is a simple family man that runs a tourism company giving local tours that boasts, “Rosie Perez once got off the interstate for directions here.” He loves his town, his frumpy wife, his chubby kids and more than anything, his pugs.
After Cam invites Marty to a “civility luncheon” where he completely embarrasses the kind, sweet man all bets are off. Let the mud slinging begin. The Motch Brothers bring in Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Huggins’ campaign manager and guide him through the process of returning the humiliation to the current Congressman. A majority of the film is seeing who can go lower and best the other at any cost. From sex scandals to calling a mustached opponent a member of the Taliban (because of the facial hair) or a communist (for his love of Chinese dogs), each man takes his morality lower and lower.
The Campaign takes your stereotypical politicians and some not-so-out-of-the-realm-of-possibility campaign tactics and multiplies it by ten. Many events in The Campaign are perfectly believable (or have happened) in recent political history. In a time when politicians are as much entertainers as they are government officials, I found The Campaign to be over the top hilarious and charming. Or maybe I just love it when politicians are made fun of.
In the Ferrell vs. Galifianakis race, I give the edge to Galifianakis. His Marty Huggins is identical to his “twin brother Seth” and very charming throughout the film, even when he is participating in events that would make even the swarthiest of politicians squirm. Honorable mention goes to Karen Maruyama playing Ms. Yao, Marty’s father’s maid that he pays to use a “Mammy” voice in spite of her Asian heritage. Maruyama is a scene stealer every time she is on screen.
The Campaign is worth seeing opening weekend, even at a full price night time ticket.