Dec 3, 2012

[Movies] The Campaign (2012)

The US political scene is admittedly something that the whole world watches to one degree or another. I suppose we can't help it - the influence of that one country on the rest of the world is rather significant indeed. And thus we all have vested interests in how the political situation there changes over time.

Now watching this political arena turned into a movie isn't quite my cup of tea, but for one reason or another I ended up watching it with Tobie and my sister during our Singapore visit earlier this year. And combining the strange subject of the movie plus the casting of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiankis and, well, you don't get a perfect comedy for me.

And yes, I'm not a big fan of either comedic actor given more often than not I feel their humor plays more to rather base slapstick or even gross-out humor instead of actually witty comedic dialog.

Plus there are only so many jokes that you can make about political campaigns when you really think about it.


Synopsis: The Campaign is a 2012 comedy movie directed by Jay Roach. Roach is better known for having directed the Austin Powers movies. The screenplay for this movie was provided by Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell.

We start the movie with meeting the incumbent congressman for the 14th District of North Carolina, Democrat Cam Brady (Will Ferrell). He's already running for his fifth term unopposed however things go awry when a sexual scandal breaks out. Of course this scandal comes to light when he manages to leave a sexually explicit voicemail message on the girl's phone while she and her family are having dinner.

This indirectly leads to the brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Akroyd), businessmen of rather ill repute, to decide to source an alternate candidate to run against Brady and thus have someone they can control to influence to direct local policy in their favor. And reach out to Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox) for help in finding such a candidate, and they end up with Raymond's son Marty (Zach Galifianakis), who is currently the tourism director of the small town of Hammond. Thus Marty becomes the lone Republican candidate to finally oppose the morally corrupt Brady.

First, the movie decides to have Galifianakis act in a manner that can only be described as, well, odd. At first it seems they wanted to imply that he may be homosexual, but of course he has a wife and kids and remains deeply religious, thus we as viewers are left to abandon that notion. And of course Ferrell remains morally vague throughout as we know he's an adulterer and inopportune slapstick moments leaves us with weird instances of him having punched both a baby and a dog on separate occasions.

And here the political campaign just generates into a lot of mud-slinging of the absurd variety including accusing Huggins of being a terrorist only because he has a mustache and countering that Brady is a bad Christian since he's unable to recite the Lord's Prayer on the spot during a debate. And this goes on and on as both sides focus their efforts on finding more and more ludicrous ways of trying to bring the other side down.

Then we have the bizarre angle of the involvement of big business in the campaign and the efforts to somehow gain advantage through support of Chinese companies. I felt this was a rather extraneous plot point that did act as motivation but didn't really prospect in terms of the narrative as a whole. Thus it just felt like a sore thumb sticking out of the plot and just, well, being there.

Given the fact that I've already mentioned Galifianakis' strange manner of speaking and acting in the movie and the fact that we got as far as depicting Ferrell punching a baby and a dog and both done in slow-motion, you kind of know where the comedy went there. And while there have been movies that have found grosser ways of trying to get a laugh, this movie still remains rather in the gutter.

The whole premise behind the movie in itself was rather weak and the comedy didn't quite pull through for me. And while the movie had its moments of amusement, more often than not I found myself just wincing in pain at each new scene instead of feeling genuinely entertained.

The Campaign may work for some but in the end didn't really strike a chord with me. It felt like it was trying to hard to get people to laugh at the whole political scene in the US but missed the mark in trying to do so. Thus I can only rate the movie as 2 weird revenge tactics used by both politicians in the movie out of a possible 5.


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