Too often, topical comedies become bogged down in biased subtext, and end up preaching rather than entertaining audiences. The political views of the director, writers, or studios superimpose themselves on the final product, so that it seems you aren’t watching a film so much as sitting through a lecture.
Not so with the latest raucous flick from Jay Roach, who most famously directed Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series. Featuring a fantastic comedic pairing in Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis, The Campaign manages to make a clear statement on the American electoral process without an overbearing bias towards any particular political viewpoint. The plot centers on the Congressional election between big-headed incumbent Cam Brady (Ferrell) and challenger Marty Huggins (Galifinakis), a simpleton family man who just so happens to be the son of a political giant and whose campaign is funded by the billionaire Motch brothers.
It really says something about Will Ferrell’s “lone-wolf” brand of comedy that most of his work can be summed up by simply saying, “You know, it’s another one of those Will Ferrell movies.” However, it seems that he’s finally met his comedic soul mate in Galifinakis. The two play off each other exceptionally well, and they take a moderately funny script and bring out just about every possible laugh. Although the supporting cast provides several great moments, none compare to the measured back-and-forth between the film’s stars. Roach has pulled off the difficult task of bringing together two stand-alone comedians to brilliant effect. Very few bits completely fall flat, and most scenes bring out at least a chuckle or two.
Much to the script’s credit, no specific politician or political party is called out directly ridiculed, save for the not-so-subtle jab at the real life Koch brothers, conservative financial giants known for discretely funding political action committees. Any movie in which politics are the central issue walks a thin line with audiences, lest they take offense at a particularly pointed joke, but The Campaign has few, if any, questionably biased moments. For the most part, it’s just another setting in which to place two excellently created characters and let hilarity ensue.
Part ribbing political lampoon, part slapstick comedy in traditional Will Ferrell style, The Campaign offers audiences a simpler kind of social satire in often hilarious fashion.
Rating: 4 out of 5