Will vs. Zach
Will vs. Zach. No last names were required in the promotional material for The Campaign, a political farce starring two of today’s most popular comic actors. Their names perhaps overshadow a key figure in the movie’s production, that being director Jay Roach. Having directed both comedy (Austin Powers & Meet the Parents) and political drama (Recount & Game Change), Roach is the perfect director to spoof political campaigns. The final product leans more towards outrageous comedy than political satire, but that’s okay. After all, it’s got Will and Zach.
Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a smug Congressman who has been representing a small district in North Carolina for years without any competition for his seat. That changes when a couple of powerful businessmen decide to throw their weight behind Zach Galifianakis’ Marty Huggins, a simple, small-town tour guide. Marty initially enters the race with the most honest and innocent intentions, but after his life is turned upside down by a fast-talking campaign manager and the unveiled insults of his opponent, the gloves come off.
The race becomes a national sensation as the two candidates continue to sink lower and lower in their attempts to smear their opponent. Mixed in with all the mudslinging is a thinly veiled undercurrent about how big business is running the American government and everyone in it. Will either of these candidates come out clean on the other side of this dirty mess? Is it possible that they both could?
At the beginning of The Campaign, it is very clear which candidate is the “good guy” and which is the “bad guy.” That soon gets muddled, however, as both candidates sink to the lowest levels in order to gain an edge against their opponent. The scales actually tip so far that the candidate who started out as the obvious bad guy becomes the more sympathetic character. The movie teeter-totters back and forth like that for awhile, skillfully shifting sympathies from one character to the other. The shifting sympathies work out well for the movie, because as audience members, we want to like both Will and Zach. The movie allows us to do that, leading to a conclusion that is ultimately satisfying.
The number one question on audience members’ minds as they enter the theater, however, won’t be whether or not they will be able to relate to the characters. Most people will be going in hoping for one thing: that the movie is funny. Have no fear, citizens of this great country; The Campaign is a political comedy that will have you laughing throughout. Sometimes you may not be exactly proud of what you are laughing at, but you will be laughing all the same.
Both Ferrell and Galifianakis have their shining individual moments when it comes to the comedy, but, surprisingly, some of their best moments together come in the film’s quieter scenes. There are a couple of scenes in this movie when the humanity of each character is revealed; which is usually quickly followed by the other taking advantage of that humanity and getting quickly back to the humor.
As their respective campaign managers, Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott are also quite entertaining, with Sudeikis getting arguably the funniest line in the movie; one of a few references that die-hard “The Price is Right” fans will appreciate.
With the type of humor and the actors involved, The Campaign may get written off as just an extended, R-rated episode of “Saturday Night Live”, but when it keeps you laughing and entertained for a full 97 minutes, who cares?
The Campaign is rated R for “crude sexual content, language, and brief nudity.” Definitely contains all of the above and makes no effort to be family friendly.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Campaign.