PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) of North Carolina’s 14th District is running for his fifth term unopposed. However his campaign is damaged by the revelation of his affair with one of his supporters, when Cam accidentally leaves a sexually explicit voice message on a local family’s phone.
Corrupt businessmen, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), use this opportunity to convince Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), tourism director for the town of Hammond and son of one of their associates, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), to run against Cam on the Republican ticket, as part of a plan to profit from illegal dealings with Chinese companies. Cam at first underestimates Marty and humiliates him by playing a video biography highlighting Marty’s dim-witted nature. The Motch brothers then hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager. Tim reinvents Marty as a successful entrepreneur and family man. Marty’s popularity rises due to his effective campaign while Cam’s is further damaged when he accidentally punches a baby when intending to hit Marty. Cam later runs a campaign portraying Marty as an Al Qaeda terrorist, and Marty exposes Cam as a fake Christian by asking him to recite the Lord’s Prayer, which he fails to do. Cam attempts to restore his religious image by visiting a church of snake handlers, but he gets bitten by a snake. A video of the bite is leaked into the Internet and goes viral, increasing Cam’s popularity.
When Cam’s son plans to slander his competition for class president, Cam realizes he has set a bad example and visits Marty to make peace. A drunken Cam tells Marty that he originally became a politician to help people, citing that as class president he had a dangerous, rusty slide removed from the playground. After Cam leaves, Wattley convinces Marty to call the police and report Cam for driving while drunk. Cam is arrested and his campaign is again damaged. Marty later airs a TV ad of Cam’s son addressing Marty as “dad”. Cam gets revenge on Marty by seducing his neglected wife Mitzy (Sarah Baker) and recording the act. The released sex tape humiliates the Huggins family and causes Cam’s campaign manager, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), to abandon him. Marty retaliates by shooting Cam in the leg on a hunting trip, increasing his own popularity.
As the election nears, Marty meets with the Motch brothers and learns of their plans to sell Hammond to their Chinese business partner and turn the town into a large series of factories. Marty realizes he has been used and rejects the Motch brothers’ support. The Motch brothers offer Cam their support instead to preserve their plans. Marty meanwhile reconciles with his family.
On election day, Cam’s victory appears to be certain until Marty comes forward and exposes the Motch brothers’ intent and promises to preserve Hammond if elected. Cam still wins and remains congressman due to rigged voting machines owned by the Motch brothers. While Cam gloats, Marty shows his large scars to Cam and reveals that he looked up to Cam in school for getting rid of the dangerous slide. Realizing he has swayed from his true objectives as a politician, Cam withdraws from the election and Marty wins by default. Cam earns back Mitch’s respect, and Marty later appoints him his chief of staff.
Six months later, Marty and Cam expose the Motch brothers’ scandals and the brothers are called to appear before Congress. The Motch brothers point out that everything they did is legal under Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, but they are arrested for their association with Wattley, who is actually an international fugitive.
So, isn’t it about time we had a Will Ferrell flick (in English)? Well, we got it with The Campaign. Some people may avoid this flick because of its two leads, Ferrell and Zach Galiafianakis tend to rub them the wrong way, but together they make magic!
What is this about?
Plenty of mud gets slung when an inexperienced contender backed by two plotting benefactors goes up against a longtime North Carolina congressman in a ruthless battle to win a House of Representatives seat.
What did I like?
Chemistry. Ferrell and Galifiankis seem to really gel together as political rivals. Their distinctive brands of comedy really played well in contrast to each other, as did their portrayal of these characters.
Satire. You can say I’m a conspiracy theorist for this, but I don’t care. It is hard to not believe there are certain powers behind the scenes pulling the strings with nearly every politician from the local school board member all the way up to the President himself (as soon as I post this, I’m sure the Secret Service will be at my door). That being said, it is good to see a film take the ludicrosity of the enormous powers these people, I use that term loosely, have and skewer it. No person, or group of person should be allowed to wield such power!
Help. For all the talk of the guys running for office, we can’t ignore their assistants, played by Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott, respectively. It is their job to be the proverbial straight men and keep things running smoothly. Oh, and hey also have to see to their guy getting elected.
What didn’t I like?
Release. I really question the timing of the release of this film. Seems as if it could have really capitalized on the election hoopla, rather than the late summer scraps. I can just see how this would have been a nice break from all the dark, evil feelings that came about during the election last month.
Is he or isn’t he. The way Zach Galifiankis’ character had a very effeminate way about him didn’t really sit right with me, especially since it turns out he is a Republican, a party not known for welcoming those who act “differently”. In a way it is kinda funny, but at the same time, not so much. It is just one of those things that works for a little while, and then you either begin to ignore it or grow weary of it.
Wives club. The wives seem to be forgotten. Ferrell’s wife has a bit more development, though she does run off with the children, but given his sexual indiscretions, that’s alright. Galifiankis’ wife, though, is as sweet as can be, but she is lost in the shuffle, save for a couple of scenes where she laments about how the election is changing and taking her husband away from her.
The Campaign is a nice little flick that is sure to bring a smile to those who watch it. As it is a satirical film, though, there are sure to be those that are offended by its view of politics. Rest assured, though, I don’t believe it veers to the left or right with its topics. I recommend this, especially around election time. It is the perfect flick to lighten things up.
3 out of 5 stars