Will Ferrell’s latest film, The Campaign, whom he co-stars with The Hangover actor Zach Galifianakis, is a satirical comedy based on an upcoming election between two American candidates.
Will Ferrell’s character, Cam Brady, looks to easily make it to Congress as he runs for his fifth term, unopposed. Until he mistakenly rings a Christian household, and leaves a detailed message about how he plans on licking his mistress’ arsehole.
Shall I leave you to stew over that delicious mental image for a while?
To take advantage of the situation, businessmen brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Motch (Dan Aykroyd) convince town eccentric (read: he has a weird love for pug dogs), Marty Huggins, to run against Cam for the district. While Huggins believes it will lead to more job opportunities for locals, in reality the brothers hope to sell it to the Republic of China, to allow sweat shop workers to work in America…
Don’t know how feasible that is, but as it’s a film, let’s go with it shall we?
What follows is a campaign that begins nasty (yet accurate), turns comical, and ends up absurd. So, as a film premise, did it work?
What went right:
Everyone knows Will Ferrell can do great comedy. Anchorman. Zoolander. Step Brothers. When he sets his mind to it, he has the ability to play the most outrageous characters, that you still end up having a weird sort of fondness for. The Campaign was no exception. Brady’s character is truly awful; he punches babies and small dogs, and he is unable to utilise proper grammar (“Because schools is this nation’s backbone”), all legitimate reasons to dislike someone on principle. Yet, despite that, you kinda feel bad when his Campaign ends up in the loo. Furthermore, as a friend pointed out, Will Ferrell as an actor, which is similar to Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, always plays over-the-top actors who end up shouting incomprehensibly. And I do enjoy a bit of ridiculous nonsense shouting.
On the other hand, we have Galifianakis, who tends to play characters who are a bit quirky, eccentric, yet lovable. Marty Huggins was not exception. I got excited when Huggins showed up Brady at the first debate, but I also laughed my arse off when his family have a ‘sleepover’, which involved sucking the insides of Twinkies out, via a straw. It can be hard as an actor to play a character that the audience likes, despite the fact they have little to no redeemable traits, yet Galifianakis nails the part of Huggins.
The satire. Considering it was a film that was centred around an American election campaign, the satirical content of this could be limitless. A personal favourite was the smear campaign against Huggins, which compared him to Al Qaeda because they both have facial hair. Absolutely ridiculous, yet so incredibly realistic to American politics. (Anyone remember the smear campaign against Barack Obama, because his name was similar to Osama?)
The one-liners. Over-the-top, sometimes far too easy to visual, and always appealing to 15 year old boys, Ferrell knows how to deliver a one liner. “Your mama’s like a vacuum cleaner…she sucks, she blows and she gets laid in the closet.” Immature yes. But also laugh-out-loud funny.
What didn’t work:
The thing about the Campaign, is that nothing was technically wrong, but there was something missing. Perhaps my expectations of Ferrell as a comedic performer are too high, but I feel like he could of done far more with this role. He has the ability to hang shit on absolutely anyone, and usually does so with aplomb, yet for a political satire, he held back his blows far too much. This. Is. American. Politics. If there were any storyline that would allow a veteran comedian to go to town, this was it. Yet it didn’t really happen. Yes, there were some hilarious moments, as detailed above, but at the same time sometimes it was a little too over-the-top. While one-liners are fantastic, and incredibly fun to quote, they’re a lot easier to achieve over subtle mockery, which I think Ferrell is capable of.
Overall, I found it to be a fun 2 hours spent at the cinema. I laughed, I groaned, and I’m now scarred for life over the idea of Ferrell licking someone’s bum hole. If you don’t go in expecting too much, I think you’ll enjoy this film, but I also don’t think it’s comparable to Ferrell’s best quality works.
Have you seen The Campaign? What did you think? Are Ferrell and Galifianakis a good pairing? Let me know!