Published Aug 09, 2012There's a Zach Galifianakis joke that goes, "There's a lot of people that yell, 'Woo!' or 'Yeah!' when they like something. I like to be more specific when I yell things out. I like to, like, when I'm at a concert, I like to yell out things like: 'The way you play your music makes me feel good inside!'"
The Campaign is definitely for those inarticulate yet enthusiastic yellers of "Woo!" Those who express themselves as sensitively as Galifianakis, if tricked into attending this movie by the vague promise of clever political satire, will more likely hang their heads and wonder how much worse humanity can possibly get.
Will Ferrell plays an incumbent congressman with all the predictable vices: lust, corruption, stupidity. Cam Brady isn't very different from Ricky Bobby and all the other stooges Ferrell's played over the years, and the shtick is wearing thin. Galifianakis, as guileless challenger Marty Huggins, is the saving grace, channelling his soft-voiced, effeminate Seth Galifianakis from Between Two Ferns. But his subtle, eccentric character work is glossed over by Jay Roach's Austin Powers-y direction ― it's a little like if Woody Allen were cast as the charming uncle in the next Transformers movie.
The scenes that best skewer the electoral process involve campaign tactics escalating to absurd levels. No sense spoiling those, since there's precious little else to enjoy in a movie so formulaic they didn't even generate original character names. A political fixer played by Dylan McDermott is named Tim Wattley, like the dentist played by a young Bryan Cranston on Seinfeld, except spelled a little different, which you wouldn't know unless you checked IMDB.
Increasingly, movies like this shoehorn cable news pundits and anchors into the proceedings as a stab at realism. The Campaign uses just about every working television personality. At some point these putative newsmen/women, or the more credible among them at least, should stop agreeing to everything that comes down the pipe, or at least start reading scripts a little more carefully. Bill Maher, Dennis Miller? Please, guys, you can do better than this.
It's hard to imagine the person gullible enough to buy the flimsy sincerity of the final moments ― the message being: "Our political system is corrupt and we need to fix it." Actually, it's not that hard ― just imagine someone who watches six or seven hours of TV a day. (Warner)