The Campaign: written by Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell, and Adam McKay; directed by Jay Roach; starring Will Ferrell (Cam Brady), Zach Galifianakis (Marty Huggins), Jason Sudeikis (Mitch), Dylan McDermott (Tim Wattley), Sarah Baker (Mitzi Huggins), Katherine LaNasa (Rose Brady), Brian Cox (Raymond Huggins), Dan Aykroyd (Wade Motch) and John Lithgow (Glenn Motch) (2013): It takes about half-an-hour for this broad political comedy to finally gain traction, which is a long time for a 90-minute movie. But when it does, it becomes pretty funny. It’s also surprisingly foul-mouthed.
The overall point being hammered again and again in The Campaign — that money has perhaps terminally damaged politics in America — is a pretty obvious one. But when the two candidates, played by Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell, really start hammering each other in campaign ads and through other means, the film manages to go only a bit beyond the level of believability.
The recent, baffling federal Conservative attack ads on new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau could almost be something out of this movie — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems as blank and pitiless as Will Ferrell’s congressman is at the beginning of the campaign. Ideology in politics is whatever raises money and thus gets you elected. Otherwise, it’s irrelevant.
If the movie were quicker in getting up to full comedic speed, and more sure of the fact that its satire doesn’t actually require us to like either of the candidates, much less both of them, by the end of the movie…well, Dr. Strangelove or even Wag the Dog this isn’t. But it is pretty funny at points, and darn short. Lightly recommended.