Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Movies Review

'The Campaign' review: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis duke it out

By
Released on Friday, Sep 28 2012

Director: Jay Roach; Screenwriters: Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell; Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott; Running time: 85 mins; Certificate: 15


In the media circus of political campaigning, Will Ferrell is the ultimate clown, but Zach Galifianakis proves to be a worthy opponent in this uproarious battle for hearts, minds and belly laughs. A subtly-drawn satire this isn't, but the parameters are clear from the outset, and the decision is yours: you're either with us, or against us.

As the incumbent Senator Cam Brady, Ferrell is as dirty as they come (aided by a stoical Jason Sudeikis), especially with regard to his private life, which suddenly becomes public after a late-night booty call goes to answerphone. It's a filthy oration, but it's very funny too, because - as with Ferrell's best characters - he overrates his macho allure.

Still, Brady looks like a Machiavellian genius next to Marty Huggins, initially played by Galifianakis with the high-falutin, high camp shtick that's become his trademark - and which can be irritating. He's a tour guide and son of a rich industrialist (Brian Cox), chosen to run against Brady by fellow billionaire bloodsuckers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) to secure a dodgy trade deal with China.

The Campaign poster, Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell
Huggins jumps at the chance to make his (perpetually disgusted) daddy proud, aided by sinister campaign manager Tim Wattley.

That's a leather-clad Dylan McDermott in an inspired bit of casting, always lurking in shadows and occasionally popping up in the shower. His input is even more valuable because he forces Galifianakis to drop the usual comedy routine for a gloves-off approach.

Inevitably though, Huggins struggles to fit the mould, nicely evidenced in the moments before a live TV debate when Ferrell throws him off-beam with some vividly composed trash talk. Of course Ferrell has a knack for surreal banter and his opponent mumbles and stumbles, but Huggins is also the obvious hero of the piece, a man of principle - albeit with a trembling lower lip.

While Galifianakis endears the crowd, Ferrell pushes the boundaries of taste further than most would dare - and gets away with it. Jay Roach is just as fearless behind the camera, capturing the moment when Brady punches a baby and indulges in the (computerised) ripple of flesh with slow-motion replays. The ploy is outrageous yet shrewd, getting a bigger laugh the second time round.

The humour is often brash, but the senator sets the tone - scoring extra points in opinion polls by making a sex tape with the pliable Mrs Huggins (Sarah Baker). Since the campaign ground is south of Washington DC, this kind of cowboy posturing goes down well and there's an echo of Ferrell's George Bush character, but Brady is more emphatic (and articulate) with his offensive remarks.

At times the gags seem facile (Armando Iannucci can rest easy), but both Ferrell and Galifianakis have an edge that makes them unpredictable, exciting and just gosh darned funny to watch. The anticipation of moral outrage is also part of the fun, so only the liberal-minded need apply. 'Yes, we can,' was Obama's rallying cry; here, filmgoers might exclaim in unison, 'Oh no, he didn't!'

You May Like

Comments

Loading...