The Campaign Review
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By this time of the year—especially if the year happens to be a presidential election year—most of us have grown tired of political campaign ads. Some are harmless enough—just ads promoting a particular candidate and his or her qualifications. Others, however, are more about finger-pointing and name-calling. It’s enough to make anyone of legal voting age consider burning their voter registration card. But leave it to two over-the-top comics and the guy responsible for Austin Powers to make politics interesting again.

Director Jay Roach’s political comedy, The Campaign, stars Will Ferrell as Cam Brady, a North Carolina Congressman who’s preparing to run for a fifth term. He expects the campaign to be another easy one, since no one ever runs against him. But everything changes when two billionaire businessmen decide to buy a dim-witted candidate to oppose the incumbent.

When Cam first meets mild-mannered tour guide-turned-candidate Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), he isn’t exactly concerned about his chances of winning the election. With the help of campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), though, Marty soon turns into a viable threat—and the campaign turns into a mud-slinging, back-stabbing free-for-all.

With Ferrell and Galifianakis in the lead roles, The Campaign could have easily been a painful mess of adolescent humor gone horribly wrong. Both comics are pretty hit-or-miss—often more enjoyable in small, bite-size doses than in big, heaping ones. Fortunately, though, the two play off each other—and balance each other out—surprisingly well.

For the most part, both Ferrell and Galifianakis play the same characters they always play: Ferrell the crass and clueless loudmouth and Galifianakis the earnest and oddly effeminate patsy. Basically, The Campaign is a pretty accurate portrayal of what would happen if Ron Burgundy from Anchorman ran for office against Alan from The Hangover. And while the characters have been done time and time again—with mixed results—the actors have so much experience playing these roles that it all comes naturally.

Some of the film’s best moments, however, have nothing to do with the two stars. Like real politicians, the clashing comics are nothing without the support of their capable campaign managers. Dylan McDermott steals the show with a brilliant performance as Marty’s soulless coach, while Jason Sudeikis holds his own as the oft-ignored voice of reason in the Cam Brady camp.

Of course, as with any other over-the-top comedy, The Campaign is a decidedly brainless mixed bag of side-splitting humor and cringe-worthy flops. But, in the end, the laughs still manage to outweigh the bombs in this unexpectedly unbiased political comedy. So if you’re a fan of either of the two stars—or just a political cynic who’s seen a few too many mud-slinging campaign ads—it’s worthy of your vote at the box office.

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