Thursday, June 8, 2023

Vulgarity and honesty works for The Campaign | Film Review


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By Kyle McCarthy | Contributing Writer

Deep in the small town of Hammond, N.C., the weight and emotional struggle of the political machine takes its toll. The tears, the bloodshed, the sex scandals, and, yes, the baby punching.

Political campaigns have become ugly, absurd competitions. Slander is common, and ads create a temporary soft spot on the viewers’ brain to keep the endless bickering a main topic of conversation among citizens. Not to mention the constant scrutiny brought on by the media, which leave some campaigns as dramatic as any reality television show.

Politics is a nasty game. Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers trilogy, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, portrays this divisive and dirty journey in a hilarious satire of political campaigns, and every ridiculous detail that is involved in them with his rightfully- and simply-titled film, The Campaign.

The Campaign stars Will Ferrell (Step Brothers, Anchorman) as Congressman Cam Brady and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) as opponent Marty Huggins. After jeopardizing his political career with a very-obvious sex scandal, Cam Brady, normally unopposed in his race for the congressional seat for his district in North Carolina, is set up to be put down by two powerful and money-hungry CEOs, the Motch brothers, whose names sound similar to the real-life election-buying Koch brothers.

The political gears of the machine begin turning as the Motch brothers pay for the director of the Hammond Tourist Center, Marty Huggins, to run against Cam Brady and bring their diabolical plan involving China and jobs to fruition.

Fans of Ferrell and Galifianakis will rejoice when they see this duo work together. Ferrell’s overly-dramatic, vulgar and exaggerated patriotic shtick, reminiscent of character Ricky Bobby in “Talladega Nights,” is still uncomfortably funny. Galifianakis, on the other hand, keeps things subtle and absurd, but dons the persona of his twin brother, Seth Galifianakis, from interviews as seen on “Between Two Ferns” and “The Comedians of Comedy.” Ferrell and Galifianakis, along with an exceptional ensemble of comedians, keep their audience laughing at all the necessary moments.

In any successful satire there is a great deal of truth and insight into societal functions, as The Campaign accomplishes in its portrayal of the American political scene.

The job is to hold a mirror up to society, and in the case of this film, the political side of society. Relaying such themes as criticism and scrutiny by the media during campaign season, dancing around questions, lack of privacy for candidates, economic hardships and corporate takeover of the small-town man, The Campaign puts a comedic spin on these themes.

However, the movie’s weakness in its tendency to go over the top with vulgarity.

Though funny in moderation, it took away from the essence and message the film is trying to convey: You can take your overly-patriotic, Bible-thumping, job-outsourcing ideas and shove it, because in the end, honesty and humility triumph over lies and arrogance. The Campaign certainly comes out on top as a truly funny and insightful comedy for the summer. As long as a sex joke or ten isn’t too bothersome, this film is definitely worth a watch.

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