“There’s something you need to know about American politics; if you have the money, nothing is unpredictable.”
Review by David Feltman
Most people know what to expect from a Will Ferrell vehicle. His special brand of incompetent man-child screwball slapstick has colored his comedy all the way back to his “SNL” days. His humor always promises a lot of goofy fun, but every once in a while one of his films will actually hit at something a little more heady than the old getting hit in the balls gag.
Don’t get the wrong idea. There are plenty of fart jokes to go around in “The Campaign,” but underneath all of the cruder humor is a clever lampoon of politics that transcends any particular ideology. This is a look at the corruptive factors of power and money on even the most innocuous candidates when placed in the giant popularity contest we call democracy. Early in the film, a montage of Ferrell’s campaign pandering culminates in the line, “Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators are the backbone of this country.” It’s a funny bit, but it’s also an accurate portrayal.
“The Campaign” never picks party preferences, but focuses on the campaign process and all of the religion, sex, scandals and shady business deals that go with it. An impromptu vetting session around the family dinner table has Zach Galifianakis uncovering his son’s petting zoo abuses and his wife’s arduous Drew Carey fantasies. While Ferrell’s improvised recitation of The Lord’s Prayer is nothing short of hysterical.
It is unfair to call “The Campaign” a Ferrell vehicle. In fact, co-star Galifianakis robs Ferrell of most of the scenes they share. And an all-star supporting cast boasting Jon Lithgow, Dan Akroyd and cameos by Wolf Blitzer, Blll Maher, Piers Anthony and Joe Scarborough prove more than worthy of the material. Despite winding down for a softball Hollywood ending, “The Campaign” is a witty and exceptionally funny film that’s perfectly timed for the campaign year.