Saturday, February 5, 2022

The Campaign

Movie Name: 
The Campaign
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, Karen Maruyama, Grant Goodman, Kya Haywood, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Lawson, Heather Lawless, Jack McBrayer 
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After remaking Francis Veber's "Le Diner de Cons" with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd with the unfortunate title, "Dinner for Schmucks", director Jay Roach quickly followed that feature, with two projects, one being the celebrated HBO film "Game Change", the other being "The Campaign". "The Campaign" focuses its narrative on the story of Cam Brady, a four-term Congressman who is up for re-election, unopposed. Cam has had a series of misfires and scandals, which prompts the very rich Motch brothers to intervene, and decide to place someone else on the race, someone who is more controllable, and will actually help them establish factories in the district in which these candidates are running. And of course, these factories will import cheap Chinese labor, which in turn has ties with their own interests in China. The candidate they decide to choose is the docile Marty Huggins, the son of a Republican heavy hitter, who has always had some issues with his father. An expert in campaigning is hired to toughen up Marty's image, and as these two candidates play the game, the antics surrounding the race become more and more over the top. 
A film featuring two talented comedians such as Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, already has a surplus of good value inherently attached, since these two performers always manage to bring irreverence and humor to any project they tackle. And ""The Campaign" is no exception, since the film leverages both these performers ability to succinctly and comically capture the traits of larger than life politicians, and average & meek every day working individuals (respectively). Where the film does falter is in the writing, since the scribers opt to mine politics in the most conventional and expected manner (ah the South and religion and small towns and their ability to be gullible), though they do allow for some surreal nonsense to come through, particularly with Cam's constant misfires during the campaign trail. It's a film that is at its best when it allows for the cast to relish in the clichés they're playing, though it's also a film that could have benefited from a more acidic point of view, one that actually demonstrates that no matter what candidates do and say, people will follow them blindly, even if at times they exhibit behaviors that are monstrous and horrifying (but truth be told, reality has far surpassed anything this film has demonstrated). In the end, it's a film that is unpretentious, one that tries to elicit laughs, and in the process winks at everyone while saying "Politics are crazy, but you the audience, likes it that way, and allows it to happen", with just enough of a dash from Frank Capra's idealism thrown in for good measure. Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis are great as usual, this time with good support from Jason Sudeikis, Sarah Baker and the impeccable trifecta of Brian Cox, John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd. Watchable though not memorable.