It’s been said politics can be a joke. With parliament often resembling a theatre of the absurd it’s no wonder movies have used our elected representatives for comedic purposes. Director Jay Roach has a grand time skewering such sacred cows with ‘The Campaign’ being of his better efforts. Known for directing the ‘Meet the Parents’ films, his ability to examine strange personalities is well utilised in this very un-politically correct production.
Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is a North Carolina congressman seeking his 5th term. Previously winning due to having no rivals, he is shocked when local tour-guide Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) contests the ballot. Little knowing Marty is being backed by shady businessmen the Motch Brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd), Cam determines to win. Fighting until the final vote is cast, both use any outlandish tactic to win voter’s minds and become the political players they imagine themselves to be.
‘The Campaign’ is a very silly movie. That’s a good thing as it gleefully attacks the various mud-slinging ways people have seen for decades. As Cam and Marty reach desperate new lows in attacking each other the humour goes into over-drive. Despite not having Yes Prime Minister’s arch wit it has a lot going for it in terms of how modern media is easily manipulated. The way some people accept anything at face value and place self-interest first is expertly interwoven amongst the expected weird shenanigans.
Will Ferrell can be sometimes be an acquired taste although he plays Cam’s sleazily opportunistic persona with aplomb. He is more than matched by Galifianakis who makes his seemingly idiotic role likeable. They are well served by a courageous ensemble understanding the type of comedy involved and deliver their lines with mostly straight faces. Their good timing is helped by a short running time ensuring the movie never out-stays its welcome.
Although not the height of political satire ‘The Campaign’ provides much mirth. The comedic ingredients are mixed for a fun brew with the circus-like atmosphere of a campaign making one wonder which the real clowns are.
Rating out of 10: 6