Tea Party politics, Citizens United condemnation, politicians for hire, under-qualified candidates, corporate espionage, election fraud, voter ignorance – what is missing from this list? How about Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis? That’s right, The Campaign is surprisingly topical given its genre and cast. Director Jay Roach has seemingly left behind Austin Powers and the Fockers for political aspirations. His previous political endeavors found success on the small screen with HBO’s Recount in 2008 and Game Change earlier this year. Now Jay Roach brings his satirically bitter sass to the big screen and he does it with surprising poise and fun. Will Ferrel plays Cam Brady, a comfortable, hypocritical, and unopposed representative of a small North Carolina district. However due to a thinly veiled conspiracy headed by the billionaire, ahem, Motch brothers, played with Duke brothers-Trading Places vitriol by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, Galifinakis’s Marty Huggins is entered into the race as a clueless pawn. With this premise set, the film then begins to parade through a string of mostly successful gags as the two warring candidates continue to attempt to one-up each other, consequently losing sight of their obligations to the public. The film is fast and fierce; the 82-minute running time and the R rating are indicative of this. It is also very funny. Ferrell plays a sleeker, slimier, variation of his classic Geroge W. character while Galifinakis plays his foil. Together, the two of them tap dance around many of the imperfections of modern day democracy.
Yes, this film is incredibly critical of the American political system, and no it does not offer any real solution. The public is often depicted as absurdly unaware and, well just plain stupid; frequent references are made to buzzwords like “America,” “Jesus,” and “Freedom” as ways to garner a political following without even making a statement or discussing a platform. In this regard, I think this movie bites off a bit more than it can chew, and I’m not sure this film will hold up over the years. However, there is no doubt that this film is much smarter and ingenious than the trailer would have you believe. For this reason, along with its decent track record of laughs, I give The Campaign my vote. B+