It's election season so that means bring on the election spoofs, documentaries, and political-related films that yield mixed results!
Speaking of mixed results, this particular election film is called The Campaign and stars Will Ferrell (a man who provides the most mixed results in film) as Cam Brady. A four-term congressman in North Carolina's 14th District who has continually run opposed. As he is about to be elected, unopposed, for his fifth term, he is interrupted by Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) who throws his hat into the political ring. Hilarity ensues. (Yes, I went there.)
Anyway, this is a crude, R-rated comedy that mixes raunchy humor with political satire. Marty Huggins is a nice guy who doesn't understand the true game of politics. Cam Brady has been in the political game long enough to understand that your hands will get dirty. After Cam Brady's image is damaged, Glen and Wade Motch (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) use their financial power to back Marty Huggins in an attempt to coerce him into office so they can set up Chinese sweatshops in the 14th District and double their already doubled profits. Yeah, I know.
As Marty has never run for office before, the Motch Brothers hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) as Marty's campaign manager and have him get Marty into political shape. Meanwhile, Cam and his campaign manager Mitch Wilson (Jason Sudeikis) deal with trying to restore Cam's image while destroying Marty's.
What follows are a bunch of hit and miss satire, crude, slapstick or some combination of those types of jokes. As with any Will Ferrell film, some jokes hit and some jokes fall flat. The funniest jokes come when the script wants to go for smart satire. Some of the commercials and interesting ideas like Cam Brady's car and two punching sequences are highlights. When the scripts goes for more lowbrow humor, like creating a sextape, the ideas become almost groan-inducing.
Will Ferrell has played this character before and could probably do it in his sleep. Zach Galifianakis plays Marty as a nice guy who gets caught up in the political game. His arc is probably the most defined as we follow him throughout the film. Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow play the bland, stereotypical bad guys who are there to explain the plot motivations and then disappear until the plot requires them to return while Brian Cox is practically wasted as Marty's father. The standout for me was Dylan McDermott's character of Tim Wattley. His portrayal of a man who will do whatever it takes to ensure his candidate wins was the funniest of the film. The way he has no remorse, especially towards Marty's family was some of the more entertaining stuff in the film.
As I thought this would be, the film was a mixed bag. When the film hit, it did so in some pretty big ways. Unfortunately, wedged in between big laughs, were long periods of silence as the plot advanced and mild chuckles as some jokes landed with a thud. As I always find Will Ferrell films hit and miss, this fits perfectly into that mold. This is no Anchorman, but thankfully, this is also not Kicking and Screaming.