Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star as two men vying to become a Congressman for a small rural community. Ferrell’s been Congressman for four terms and Galifianakis stars as the underdog who was chosen by a corporation to act as a puppet (the strings being pulled by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow).
There are some surprisingly poignant moments that make you think about the way that actual campaigns are run. The satire is thick at times and sometimes obvious, but there are some nice nods to former gaffs and blunders made by politicians. The plotline is pretty predictable but ultimately satisfying. Ferrell and Galifianakis both provide plenty of laughs but there are also quite a few missteps which lead to some awkward silence from the audience.
The supporting actors deliver some solid performances. Jason Sudeikis stars as Ferrell’s campaign manager and he (as usual) is a great straight man to the outrageous character. On the opposite spectrum, we’ve got Dylan McDermott as the man brought in to help shape Galifianakis into a competitive candidate. McDermott nails the straight-faced look and progressively becomes something more like an assassin than a campaign manager, appearing from dark shadows and headbutting innocent bystanders. It’s hilarious though, because it’s unexpected.
What doesn’t work?
I’m starting to believe that Zach Galifianakis can only play one role. His roles in The Hangover(s), Due Date, and then this film are all identical. I’m starting to become bored with that shtick. Ferrell also doesn’t tread any new ground, as his character is basically a modern version of Ron Burgandy. Yes, there are definitely funny moments, but it’s not terribly unique. The plot is also pretty cliche and predictable.
There are also some shock and awe moments that fall flat, such as jokes that tried too hard to push the boundaries and ended up making me turn my head and go “Hmm” instead of laughing.
There aren’t a lot of comedies out right now that are “WOW” worthy, so you might pick The Campaign when you head to the theaters, but don’t expect anything extremely unique, as you’ve likely seen this territory before. If you’re a fan of Ferrell and/or Galifianakis, you’ll likely appreciate them here. And as the November elections approach, this movie does offer up some thinking points about how the campaigns for both sides will go (although likely more exaggerated in the film than in real life). If you’re just looking for escapism and a few good laughs, The Campaign is a sure thing.