Just in time for Election Day is The Campaign, a political comedy starring Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell. Unlike this movie, this upcoming election is no laughing matter. Alright, that’s as political as I’m going to get in this review. I’m sure you’ve already heard enough people voicing their opinions on Facebook and on Twitter about the election. You don’t need to hear that here.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it has always seemed like Will Ferrell is a pretty useless comedian if he doesn’t have another great comedian to bounce his antics off of. The proof is in his filmography. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, co-starring John C. Reilly is amazing. Semi-Pro, which co-stars Outkast’s Andre 3000, is awful. Anchorman, co-starring a whole list of great comedians, is legendary in its irreverence. Blades of Glory, co-starring Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder, is almost unwatchable. Luckily for The Campaign, the flick nabbed co-star Zach Galifianakis, and it’s probably The Hangover actor’s best role to date. He plays Marty Huggins, a nebbish, but lovable political opponent, and the two actors onscreen together create comic gold. This film might not be the biting political movie that it could have been, but it’s hilarious enough that I can’t help but sing its praises.
Will Ferrell settles on playing the salacious, dimwitted politician, which is a role he can play quite well. His character, Democratic Congressman Cam Brady, has had so little competition in his state of North Carolina for the past few years that he’s pretty much gotten a free ticket to do whatever (and screw whomever) he wants without any repercussions. He’s the stereotypical politician, and he does a great job at it. But things change when the Republican party sees an in after a monumental scandal hits Cam Brady’s campaign, and so the party leader’s slip in the polar opposite candidate. Enter Marty Huggins, a man who loves his family almost as much as he loves American pie and the truth. He also happens to have a caterpillar mustache and sounds like his testicles just dropped yesterday. Huggins is a great character, and Galifianakis totally nails it.
The beauty of this movie, though, is just how outlandish it is. At no time does it try to make any point other than to note just how ridiculous and childish campaigns can actually get. My favorite scene has Marty Huggins reading a book Cam Brady drew when he was like 5, which Higgins pretends to interpret as Communist rhetoric. Chaos and comedy ensues. Another great scene has a secret camera in the bushes while Huggins wraps his arm around Brady’s son and coerces him to say that his dad has done a bad job at being a father, with Huggins concluding that he could be the boy’s dad. It’s just plain ridiculous, and an excellent scene for a movie that never takes itself seriously (not even for a second).
That said, a part of me kind of wishes this movie wasn’t so off-the-wall goofy. It touches on some real issues, like selling America out to the Chinese to make a profit, but it doesn’t go far enough. Director Jay Roach has shown that he can do biting satire with his comedy movies like Borat and
There isn’t really all that much in the special features category. All we get are three extras, and none of them are long or informative like say, a commentary would be, or anything like that. All we get is some improvisation, some deleted scenes, and a gag reel. The gag reel is the most successful of the three.
In the improv heavy, Line-O-Rama, we hear the actors spout some really insane lines--especially Will Ferrell during a moment when he was supposedly bitten by snakes. Where does the guy come up with some of this stuff? In the deleted scenes, we get a whole bunch of unfunny extras, with one in particular being a new ending to the film where the Chinese actually do come to North Carolina and take over, to some pretty funny results. Unfortunately, that’s the only funny deleted scene on here. Finally, in the gag reel, the actors can’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness at some of the lines they have to read. I’m surprised they were able to get through any of them all, given just how bizarre some of the words are that come out of their mouths.
As I said before, though, I really would have liked to have heard a commentary, preferably with Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell in character--just like in This Is Spinal Tap. Why doesn’t anybody do that anymore? The last one I remember hearing was in Bubba Ho-Tep with Bruce Campbell pretending to be Elvis as he was in the film. I love in-character commentary. It’s a shame that it’s so rare. Overall, though, these are pretty tame special features. Pass on them.