Saturday 1 June 2013


(Jay Roach, 2012)

It seems odd to attempt to mix political satire with the sort of broad absurdist wit with which Will Ferrell has made his name, but that is exactly what The Campaign tries to do.
In some ways, it's extremely successful; there are some big laughs here, though they mostly come from the absurdist humour. The political satire in The Campaign is broad and often blunt, but it is still a mostly likeable film. The leads - Ferrell as Congressman Cam Brady and Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins, his opponent in the race for a seat for a district in North Carolina - are both excellent here in different ways.
Ferrell gives another spin on his usual territory; Brady is one of his sexist, racist dinosaurs, oblivious to the fact that his outdated ideas on most things have no place in the modern world, while Huggins is an absolute oddball - camp, pedantic and incapable of opening doors. Their campaign is filled with outrageous stunts and tricks, most of it funded (in the films big play for savage satire) by Corporate money desperate to sell the district to the Chinese. Dylan McDermott is fun as the sharp slick spin doctor who turns Huggins' career around, but most of the best material comes on the off-beat:  the scene where Huggins encourages his family to lay all their sins on the table and is horrified by his boys escalating confessions of sexual and delinquent behaviour is a brilliant one, while Ferrell's campaign ads and speeches are beautifully hyper-sincere. Roach directs it all efficiently, and if it isn't outstanding,  at least it is occasionally funny.

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