The Campaign

The Campaign


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

With about a month to go before the American presidential elections comes the political comedy The Campaign. It is a fairly simple and linear story about the fatcat Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) financing a campaign to unseat an incumbent for financial gain. The incumbent, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), is a loathsome Democratic Congressman whose sexual peccadilloes have come to light. The challenger for the Republicans is Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). He is the director of a local Tourism Centre. Overweight and camp, he doesn't conform to the American view of masculinity. Despite having no political experience he is chosen by the Motch brothers because he belongs to a minor political dynasty.

The two candidates slug it out with heavily signposted dirty tricks and unimaginative insults - there's no Malcolm Tucker here. The Campaign fails to keep up with current events. It doesn't have the weird prescience of Yes Minister or The Thick Of It. Although the film can't compete with Mitt Romney's gaffes it has some moments of humour but many of the jokes are based on US politics and don't translate well to a non-US audience. For instance, making fun of Dick Cheney shooting a fellow huntsman, which happened well over five years ago (February 2006), falls flat because those outside the US haven't watched Democrats slag Republicans over it for over half a decade.

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Beyond humour, there isn't much else to write home about. The Campaign is neither cutting nor enlightening. Its simple message - vested interest distorting the political process being a bad thing - is hardly revelatory. You're not going to be sitting in the cinema thinking "that scene was just stunning" or being moved by any of the performances. There is nothing glaringly awful about the film, it's just that it's very middle of the road. It doesn't take the risk of really causing political offence to anyone.

The Campaign may work as a comedy for some that are immersed in American politics but if you are not part of that particular audience you will fail to see the funny side.

Reviewed on: 28 Sep 2012
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The Campaign packshot
Rivals slug it out over a North Carolina electoral district.
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Director: Jay Roach

Writer: Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, Uggie

Year: 2012

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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