Will Ferrell as Cam Brady
Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins
Jason Sudeikis as Mitch
Dylan McDermott as Tim Wattley
Katherine LaNasa as Rose Brady
Sarah Baker as Mitzi Huggins
John Lithgow as Glenn Motch
Dan Aykroyd as Wade Motch
Brian Cox as Raymond Huggins
Karen Maruyama as Mrs. Yao
Grant Goodman as Clay Huggins
Kya Haywood as Dylan Huggins
Randall D. Cunningham as Cam Jr.
Madison Wolfe as Jessica Brady
Thomas Middleditch as Travis
Directed by Jay Roach
An even-handed skewering of the political process and a great cast make “The Campaign” a perfect antidote to the endless media coverage of the upcoming presidential election. If you’re up for an R-rated political comedy, you’ll want to check it out.
Cam Brady is a long-term congressman up for re-election, but considering that nobody is running against him, his return to office is a sure thing. At least it’s a sure thing until he accidentally leaves a sexually explicit message on a family’s answering machine. With Cam’s job in jeopardy, wealthy businessmen Glenn and Wade Motch decide it’s time to get a new political puppet in office. They set their sights on Marty Huggins.
Marty was always the black sheep in his family. While they were all heavily involved in politics, Marty became a family man, dog lover, and small town tour guide. But when the Motch brothers arrive with this new opportunity, Marty jumps at the chance to fulfill the family destiny and make his father proud.
Now with Cam Brady in a fight for survival against the heavily financed Marty Huggins, a brutal political campaign ensues. But no matter who wins, we lose.
“The Campaign” is rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity.
You have to give credit to the creators of “The Campaign.” They have good timing. If there was ever a perfect time to release an election comedy, it’s right before a presidential election. The public is so sick of political ads, smear campaigns, and hypocrisy from all parties, the time is right for political satire. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis certainly make the most of it.
One big question I had going into this was whether or not “The Campaign” would be evenhanded in skewering politics. While both sides deserve mocking, Hollywood typically likes to direct their fire solely at the Republicans. I was happy to see that no side was left unscathed in this film and it was, for the most part, firing at both political parties equally. While they do explicitly state at one point that Cam Brady is a Democrat and Marty Huggins is a Republican, it is almost irrelevant in the story. They instead focus on the mutual sins of all of the politicians. We see them make fun of the mudslinging political ads, talking and saying nothing at debates, media gaffes, manufactured political images, campaign organizers, and more. Still, Democrats and Republicans are targeted for their unique flaws as well. Cam Brady is a shameless womanizer ala Bill Clinton. Marty Huggins does his best to paint Brady as a socialist using a paper his opponent wrote in 2nd grade. Overall, I think “The Campaign” effectively parodies politics while not alienating any particular political party.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis deliver exactly what you would expect of them in “The Campaign”. Ferrell’s Cam Brady is essentially a mix of his George W. Bush impression and Bill Clinton. Throw in a little Ricky Bobby from “Talladega Nights” and you get the idea. It’s fun to see him make one political gaffe after another. You see him punch a baby instead of kiss it, get arrested in a most spectacular manner for drunk driving, and have a sex tape / political ad combination. He’s a political perfect storm. Then you have Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins. It’s a character unlike any we’ve seen him play before. He’s the effeminate heterosexual and the least likely man you’d expect to see run for Congress. Seeing every aspect of his life modified to fit the political profile is amusing.
But as fun as Ferrell and Galifianakis are, I was equally impressed with the supporting characters. Dylan McDermott is delightfully evil as campaign advisor Tim Wattley. Even the way he enters and exits the movie is comically devilish. Karen Maruyama also stands out as Mrs. Yao, the Huggins family maid who is forced to do a ridiculously stereotypical Southern accent. She steals every scene she’s in which is an accomplishment considering she’s on screen with Galifianakis, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, and John Lithgow. Katherine LaNasa is also fun as Rose Brady, the political wife willing to put up with a philandering husband in her quest for power. There are many more funny performances in “The Campaign,” even from Marty’s pugs, and I give a lot of credit to director Jay Roach for making sure every member of the cast has a moment to shine.
What Didn’t Work:
“The Campaign” is quite strong for 2/3 to 3/4 of the film. There are lots of laughs and amusing moments. But by the end it definitely runs out of steam and they opt for a mediocre, safe ending. I can’t get into more details without discussing spoilers, but suffice it to say that the ending is not on par with the rest of the film. You definitely walk out of the movie on a chuckle rather than a big laugh, and that ends up hurting the overall impression of the film.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re up for an R-rated political comedy, then “The Campaign” is worth checking out.