Film Review : The Campaign
● By Justin Buettner
Long term congressman Cam Brady, who normally runs unopposed, gets a surprise when Marty Huggins enters the race. Huggins, who is backed by billionaire businessman hoping to buy political clout in Washington, wage a brutal and nasty race that Cam Brady is eager to match. As the mud-slinging escalates both politicians annihilate each other’s reputations and family lives in a win at all cost style of campaigning. Will either man regain focus in time to realize that their very homes are in danger by the men that are financing their race?
The Campaign feels like a Funny or Die website skit extended into a feature length movie. If the funny parts of this movie were condensed into a five to ten minute short the filmmakers might be onto something. In the feature length form the movie runs of gas fairly fast and gets bogged down in its subplots of billionaires wanting to sell land to China and campaign antics that get repetitive and old.
Politics in feature films is a tricky subject to tackle because by in large people have a distaste for it and quite frankly nothing can measure up to the real life antics for those that actually follow it. Satire that pokes fun at the real figures works great in short bursts like skits on Saturday Night Live. To have that same satire support an entire feature film is a tall task. The Campaign does have great moments like when Cam Brady claims that his opponent Marty Huggins is an Islamic terrorist because he has a mustache, very funny. The movie takes aim and fires at will at politicians and lets face it, they are very easy targets. But because the movie spends its time taking apart both the lead characters it’s really hard to have a rooting interest in either man.
Will Ferrell is no stranger to political satire as he made a huge name for himself for his very funny portrayal of George Bush. Ferrell pretty much does a similar character with Cam Brady, a not so bright win at all costs politician. He can be very funny in these types of roles, but there is absolutely no depth to the Cam Brady character. Zach Galifianakis plays his Marty Huggins character much like he does his other eccentric characters, strange and awkward. Where this type of character works in a supporting role, it becomes repetitive in the lead role and much like Ferrell’s Cam Brady, Galifianakis is so over the top that his Marty Huggins character does not have a lot of depth either.
Jay Roach is an immensely talented comedy director and producer as he is responsible for both the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises. Here he does what he can with the material. The political ads and debates are handled very well and he does get some big laughs from them. It’s all the time between those funny bits that the movie fails and it’s in these parts it feels like he lets his lead actors go over the top in an attempt to entertain as he must have known the material by itself was not that interesting.
Ultimately the Campaign was released at the right time, just before the launch of the conventions in a presidential election year. It won’t be long before the wave of political ads hit the airwaves and people become sick of the onslaught. The movie does show just how empty these politicians can be as I think the satire is probably closer to reality than most of us would like to think. Just the same there is not enough character or plot to support an entire feature. In addition the laughs are spread to thinly across the running time. Sadly this comedy follows a trend of comedy let downs in 2012 after such a stellar year for comedies in 2011. The Campaign is a forgettable comedy with a few lines at best.
Films like The Campaign : Head of State, Welcome to Mooseport, and Man of the Year
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.Want more? Check out the Flicks with Style Facebook Page!