The Campaign

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campaignWill Ferrell channels Ron Burgundy and George W to become Cam Brady, long-term congressman who usually runs unopposed. A phone call to a mistress gets out and the money men that want their politician elected (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow – both wasted in these roles), decide to bring in Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). He channels Mr. Rogers and Richard Simmons.

He runs the local TourismCenter, and is a happily married religious man. It was a pleasant surprise to see the screenwriters didn’t go for cheap gay jokes because of the lisp and demeanor this character displayed. Now, that doesn’t mean this is a strong comedy. It’s uneven, and I would’ve liked a stronger script or a more serious comedy on campaigns; although I remember being rather disappointed by Wag the Dog; perhaps a film like Dave, but with a more mean-spirited tone.

Huggins is in over his head, especially when it comes to smack talking with Brady. A slick campaign manager, played wonderfully by Dylan McDermott, helps Galifianakis quickly rise in the polls.

Ferrell’s campaign manager is played by Jason Sudeikis. They were smart to have his character play it straight.

Brian Cox is the angry dad. I’m sure that’s a part Rip Torn would’ve gotten if he didn’t keep popping up in the news these days. It would’ve just been so much funnier hearing Torn say to Galifianakis “You look like Richard Simmons crapped out a hobbit.”

There’s a small role done by Karen Maruyama as the maid with a southern accent. That gets a lot of big laughs.

There’s a plot to “insource” slave labor, with Chinese workers coming into their small town to work factor jobs. I would’ve preferred more of the jokes going down those paths instead of the Talladega Nights style of humor.

That doesn’t mean some of that type stuff didn’t work. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out why I laughed so hard at a baby being punched. In slow motion, even. Certainly that didn’t look good on paper.

And how can you not laugh at the crowd that is persuaded by the idiotic things said in the debates? One involves a candidate being called a Communist because of a crayon story he did in elementary school, where he wrote that he wanted rainbows and chocolate for everyone in the town.

This movie may be inconsistently funny. For example, a scene where everybody is being honest, doesn’t work at all. The kids at the dinner table being inappropriate doesn’t either, and it’s been done many times before.

Yet hearing that the pet Pugs have to me removed because other breeds test higher in polls, or watching Burt Reynolds movies to learn how to talk tough…it all makes me wonder why the commercials for this movie were so unfunny. Aren’t those where we usually see the funniest scenes?

The movie also contains what could be the best description of a rattlesnake bite ever.

Sure, this is a far cry from Dr. Strangelove, but I’m going to give it a little bit of love.

This movie reluctantly gets my vote. I’m giving it 3 stars out of 5.

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