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The Campaign

November 1, 2012

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Will Ferrell and. Zach Galifianakis play North Carolina Republicans fighting for a congressional seat. They are both dumb, odd and everything a liberal Hollywood actor thinks Republicans are. The biggest problem with this film is instead of creating a unique narrative it is an attack on former political issues. It pokes fun at ballot counting, gun wounds, affairs, big money, alcoholism, improperly pronounced words and features Greenday songs.

The best parts of this satire are the moments when the creators strive for originality. Instead of force feeding obvious humor the movie should have toned down on the personas of each actor and allowed them to create something new. The Will/Zach DNA is so prevalent it makes you miss the days of Anchorman, Hangover and Out Cold (not a good movie but I enjoyed it). It is unfair to compare any satire to Dr. Strangelove but what that movie excelled at was creating memorable characters. You know all their names and the moments they had are stuff of comedy legend. The Campaign wants to entertain but doesn’t strive for intelligent humor and thinks the funny actors are enough. The result is a breezy 85 minutes that is quickly forgotten.

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The film does provide several funny moments and a couple big laughs. Ferrell has mastered the boisterous man child who speaks loudly and calls pugs “tiny little munchkin butts.” His Cam Brady is a volatile man who gets hyped by “listening to Metallica in a sauna while doing pushups.” However, a rogue voice message gets him in trouble and hispoll  numbers suffer which allow Zach to enter the race.

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Zach plays a man whom focus groups call “odd, clammy, probably Serbian and looks like the Travelocity gnome.” Dylan McDermott takes the clammy gnome and turns him into a tiny dynamo of dumb. He becomes a vicious little pug who will do anything to win and is responsible for keeping Dylan’s supply of Honey Nut Cheerio’s stocked.

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There is an inspired scene where Will has to recite the Lord’s Prayer and takes the lead from a pantomiming Jason Sudekis. It leads to a decent set piece that doesn’t feel like the actors shoving improvisation down our throats. Judd Apatow is another director who allows his actors to imrov but he also incorporates an interesting story to serve as a buoy for the copious amounts of dialogue. Without the narrative the films feel like a mash up of scenes on top of a speeding locomotive. The Campaign is 82 minutes of dirty political satire that thinks it is smarter than it is.

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The biggest problem with this film is that it thinks it is incredibly smart but still incorporates laughs around tickle sh*ts, boobs and certain feelings about Drew Carey. Characters are not important and are dwarfed by the next potential laugh. This movie has memorable scenes but nobody will be talking about the characters because there is nothing to them.

Watch The Campaign.  Laugh a few times. Cross your fingers that Anchorman 2 won’t go down the same road.

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