Cinema Review: The Campaign


DIR: Jay Roachn • WRI: Tracy Letts • PRO: Ted Hope, Derrick Tseng • DOP: Andrij Parekh • ED: Kevin Messman • DES: Alex DiGerlando • Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, Dan Ackroyd, John Lithgow 

Cam Brady (Ferrell) is the Republican (or Democrat? it never outright says) Congressman for the 14th district of a small North Carolina town, and despite his wicked ways – he has a portaloo encounter with a young blonde and leaves a sexy message for her (but on someone else’s answer phone) – he still expects that his ‘strong’ hair and speeches about ‘America, Jesus and Freedom’ will see him cruise to another lazy term in office.

Cigar-chomping, sweat-shop big business villains the Motch Brothers (Ackroyd and Lithgow) aren’t so sure, and to protect their big plans for the town they hand-pick Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), a pudgy, pug-loving, awful sweater-wearing eccentric with a lisping voice and a thankless job in the local Tourism Office, as his opponent.

Naïvely determined to make a difference – and to make his retired politician dad (Brian Cox) finally proud of him – Marty gladly takes the advice of devilish spin-doctor Tim (McDermott) and soon he’s got all the props: a house full of guns, stuffed eagles, two Labradors, great hair, snappy suits – and a family he never sees anymore.

Outraged that anyone would dare challenge him, Brady and his publicity genius Mitch (Jason Sudeikis) soon start the war of words – and secret videos – and outrageous adverts – and accidental punches – and cheerleaders – and fireworks – and outright mud-slinging lies. The race is on. Oh, it’s on.

Outrageous and often very funny, this slapsticky spoof/parody wisely stays away from outright satire – current politics is so corrupt and scandalous that it’s already a big joke (you wonder how often the scriptwriters were tearing their hair out when one of their fake scenarios actually turned up in the news) – yet it barely stops from subtly/not so subtly referencing other political events and people, and as such it keeps an OTT feel all the way through. It’s very US politics-centric in that regard, but many of the standard political clichés on display here work no matter where you are from.

Mercifully, director Roach seems to have kept any improvisation to a minimum (good work, since both stars are producers too), and though some of the more emotional moments seem forced, the sheer pace of this racy and rude ride through what many (especially outside the US) would probably think isn’t far from the truth – well, it wins my vote. Finally, for a film that supposedly takes place in North Carolina (and references it all the time), it was actually shot in New Orleans: better tax breaks no doubt. Ironic?

James Bartlett

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
85 mins

The Campaign is released on 28th September 2012

The Campaign– Official Website


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