Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Campaign, a review


Jay Roach has probably the easiest job in regards to this film. His only mission is to cut out the overabundance of political gaffes, crazy tactics and sub-sexual liaisons that permeate real-life politics. And, for the most part he succeeds. He gets the dream of team of two seasoned comedians with the fertile ground of current political shenanigans, and simply lets the cards fall.

Will Ferrell plays a sleazy congressman who has his election tied up. That is until a multi-trillion dollar corporation decides to kick him out and run a dark horse candidate. Who? You guessed it. Zack Galifianakis.

TECHNICAL

Well, this is a comedy. There aren't many technically crazy moments. There is a moment where a baby is punched in the face. And they show it. Ripples and everything. It's actually really funny.

The cinematography isn't distracting, the editing hits most of the jokes fairly well and the pacing rarely flags.

NARRATIVE

Jay Roach marshalls a seasoned supporting cast. John Lithgow, Jason Sudeikis and Dan Aykroyd are all involved and offer chuckles throughout. Mostly through reactions to the increasing absurdity of the political conundrums.

I will highlight three things that stuck with me:

1. The ability of the writers and director to make dinner scenes both uncomfortable and hysterical. Both families offer unique and funny ways to integrate family dysfunction and political hilarity into a fairly potent comedic concoction. Phew.

2. There is baby punching.

*spoiler*

3. The implication of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Ferrell channels Rick Perry filtered through Bill Clinton (ick?) and Zack Galifianakis channels...himself. Or, maybe Billy Mays and Rick Santorum? Who knows. The acting is solid and the jokes actually work. Each scene has something amusing and often highlights the stupidity of the political process, particularly dirty tactics.

THEMES

Should we actually tell the truth? Would the American populace actually be better off know the sins of our leaders? Would we actually care? At what price truth?

Of course the film isn't interested in answering the question. It's a comedy. However, the fact that it broaches the subject is quite nice. As with Ferrell's last comedy The Other Guys, it belays a distrust of corporations and the political process, entities that deserve a good tongue lashing from time to time.

CONCLUSION

Does this qualify for a passing grade under my 10 minute rule? Yes. I actually laughed about once every ten minutes. Will Ferrell is funny, Zack is funny, the film rarely gets bogged down and there is enough in here to offend conservatives and liberals.

For America, Jesus and Freedom.

4 stars out of 5.

--Nick

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