Warner Bros. // 2012 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 30th, 2012
Who's got your vote?
Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt was really an Asian woman? John F. Kennedy was a methadone addict who collected tarantulas and women's fingernails? George Washington secretly moonlighted as a gigolo? What do these have to do with Warner's new to Blu-ray The Campaign, you ask? Nothing. Much like our politicians, I like making stuff up.
Cam Brady (Will Ferrell, Casa de mi Padre) is a North Carolina congressman in his sixth term living the sweet life off the taxpayers. Brady enjoys fine food, lavish housing, and beautiful women (even though he's married), all because he runs unopposed every election. Imagine Cam's surprise when he suddenly finds himself in competition with oddball Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover), encouraged to run for office by his gruff father (Brian Cox, X-Men 2: The Last Stand) and a couple of billionaires (Ghostbusters's Dan Aykroyd and Raising Cain's John Lithgow) with ulterior motives. With the help of a focused and determined campaign manager (Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story), Marty goes from zero to political hero, as Cam begins to see his lush life slipping away -- made worse by punching babies and dogs. Who will come away the victor in this Campaign?
It's an election year, as if you needed me to tell you that. Who are you voting for? Mitt Romney? Barack Obama? Do you even give a flying rat's behind? By this point, so many people are sick of the political process they're apt to write in Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air just for fun. In my eyes, it makes releasing a political movie a dubious choice at best. I'm sure the studio execs were thinking people's interest will be piqued because of the timing, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's quite the opposite. Everyone is so sick of listening to candidates, they want nothing to do with politics, especially in movies.
The Campaign is a generic, run-of-the-mill comedy (I use that term loosely) relevant in so much as it's an election year and it deals with politicians. This means the film is apparently supposed to have relevance, which it does, just not in the way that's needed. There isn't any satire about the current political process, just bumbling shenanigans about two small town candidates whose lives and families are fodder for fart jokes, slipping nipples, and gratuitous sexual innuendo.
Will Ferrell is just barely holding it together before he busts out into a full blown George W. Bush impersonation (one of his best known characters from Saturday Night Live). Ferrell's Cam Brady is an oversexed horn-dog about as likable as a pan of used kitty litter. He seems to sleepwalk through the film, realizing the script he's working with is little more than cinematic filler. Zach Galifianakis plays yet another variation on his own persona; an oddball character with a lisp, weird facial hair, and effeminate posture. Galifianakis is funny, but this character is about as deep as a saucer of milk. In fact, none of the characters in The Campaign ever come off as anything more than one-dimensional. How do you cast actors like Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, and Brian Cox and not find a single way to utilize their comedic gifts?
Saying The Campaign isn't the sharpest political comedy ever to grace the screen seems a major understatement. In fact, I would call it a dumb political comedy, if it didn't insult other dumb political comedies. When the jokes revolve around silly Taliban commercials and politicians punching babies, you know you're not in Aaron Sorkin territory. The screenplay by Chris Henchy (who penned the Ferrell dud Land of the Lost) and Shawn Harwell (TV's Eastbound and Down) is light on funny one-liners and heavy on swearing, to the point where it's actually distracting to the story. Ferrell's F-bombs seem less like quirky character traits and more like an actor struggling to be relevant and amusing. Director Jay Roach -- a long way away from his Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery heyday -- films every scene like it's a blunt instrument used to hammer the audience's head, par for the course with most Will Ferrell comedies.
The Campaign runs out of gas long before the election takes place, and by that time an orangutan could have won the race and I would have been just fine with that. Ferrell and Galifianakis should make a ridiculously funny twosome, but flounder inside a film that is flat out boring; one of the worst things a comedy can be.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the transfer is excellent; a crystal clear image whose colors truly pop off the screen. While not wildly exciting, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track works very well within the confines of the film, the ambient surround moments coming in the form of music cues and quick directional effects. Since this is a dialogue heavy comedy, don't expect anything here to blow you away. Also included are alternate language tracks in Dolby 5.1 Spanish and French, with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Bonus features are rather anemic. All we get are deleted scenes, a four minute featurette ("Line-O-Rama"), a gag reel, and the now obligatory combo pack of standard def DVD copy and UltraViolet digital download.
When it comes to political satire, The Campaign is a pretty thin comedy without much teeth. Fans of Ferrell and Galifianakis may find it worth a watch, but it's a mostly hollow time waster.
We demand immediate ouster!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* UltraViolet Download