August 31, 2012
A campaign of crude humor
The raunchy political satire The Campaign benefits from the fittingly outrageous comic pairing of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Combining breezy political jabs and mainstream comic sensibilities, its story is clearly crafted to play around these stars' strengths. Conceptually, this tale attempts to address the deeper issues in the American democratic process, but it ends up covering a narrow political spectrum with its scattershot approach. It may not always be sharp or smart, but what it lacks in substance, it makes up in big laughs. At best, it is the type of movie that is able to generate enough chuckles using its own brand of crude humor.
The film's predictable narrative becomes a poke in the eye to modern politics. As expected, the characters commit themselves to the relentlessly vulgar, mean-spirited, and weirdly traditional aspects of political campaigns and the mayhem these bring to both the candidates and those around them. As a convulsively funny piece, it stages many outrageous scenes happening in the real-life political arena—from the traditional slogan-slinging and attack-ad-making to the propaganda-induced debate circuses and sex sandals. It hilariously presents crooked electoral financing, switching loyalties, and sensationalist media as typical parts of any political figure's diet.
This motion picture warrants a watch for fans of its two well-matched leads as they make fun of the U.S. political system. Ferrell effectively channels a profanity-induced childish behavior into his large adult body, while Galifianakis promotes an unsettlingly dumb adult demeanor into his big and stout frame. The chemistry of the tandem allows their characters to conveniently commit to both the fresh and slapstick elements of their sight gags. The scene with Galifianakis and his family at the dinner table is worth noting for its daring showcase of laugh-out-loud bits of scatological jokes.
The supporting roles also contribute to the film's workable mix of smart, scathing, and wildly silly scenes. From candidates' families to their colleagues and followers, these roles deliver liberal portions of laughs through their fitting character nuances and charming comedic chops. Dylan McDermott nearly steals the movie with his brutally nasty and manipulative role as a campaign manager. The supporting work from Jason Sudeikis and Sarah Baker also offer some nice and memorable moments on screen.
With its outrageous humor and eccentric characters, this intermittently amusing treat may not always be on top of its game, but it can easily get the vote of the not so demanding audience with its way of making fun of American politics. At some point, it becomes inconsistent as it crumbles for a redemptive finale, but its appeal is still able to keep its comedic charm until its end. It accepts the challenge of making a political satire revolving around the sheer volume and force of loud, predictable, and profane situations. From the most lewd to the most surreal realities of political campaigns, its gross-out gags often highlight sequences with finely paced comedic absurdisms. Some turn out half-baked and some are not always able to sustain their comic edges, but the good parts shine with the way they deliver timely and razor sharp satirical points.
Often weirdly familiar and mildly amusing, this movie rightfully explores the laughable aspects of the political system and the election process. There are times when the story gets bloated with laugh-out loud farce. There are also times when things merely sag with their cynical presentation of electoral qualms. But ultimately, this hysterical picture remains as a serviceable hit-and-miss treat with its laughs mostly scattered in various places.
Overall, The Campaign is a decently entertaining mainstream flick with a fair knack for comedy. It tries to dig deeper into the veins of election hullabaloos, but its bites of parody often settle up to the surface level only. It could have been a sharper movie, but it is safe to say that it is not as trashy as many other mindless offerings of the genre.
The Campaign is now showing in theaters nationwide.
About the writer: Exposed in the different facets of media including film, TV, advertising, theater, radio, print, web, and events, Rianne is an awarded filmmaker whose film works go beyond her productions. As a young and active soul, she immerses herself in various disciplines as a director, writer, educator, and production artistdriving her to further learn and experience love and life.