The Campaign (R)

Comedy 97 August 10, 2012
By Karina Longworth
The Campaign begins with an on-screen quote attributed to Ross Perot: "War has rules. Mud-wrestling has rules. Politics has no rules." The reference is a fitting start to this amusing but toothless R-rated comedy from Jay Roach, the founding director of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises, who most recently signed his name to the Sarah Palin-humanizing HBO movie, Game Change. Like past-his-peak Perot, The Campaign is basically a footnote, a goof on our broken political system that’s good for a certain novelty, but as a challenge to the dominant order, it's impotent. Will Ferrell stars as Cam Brady, a Republican North Carolina congressman who suggests a hybrid of Ferrell’s George W. Bush caricature and Bill Clinton's most spoofable horn-dog extremes, who is running against political novice Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). The core of The Campaign's comedy consists of the Brady and Huggins campaigns setting increasingly absurd traps for the other to fall in, with each ensuing incident breathlessly reported by media that stubbornly refuse to traffic in logic or offer context. By design, The Campaign is less a satire than a utopian fantasy. F-bombs and bestiality jokes aside, it’s basically a small-town fable in which just-folk human beings are temporarily corrupted by opportunistic evil outsiders, a threat that is ultimately eradicated in what amounts to a fairy-tale snap of the finger.
Jay Roach Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell, Adam McKay Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Jay Roach, Zach Galifianakis Warner Bros. Pictures

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