Politicians are idiots. I'm old enough to acknowledge that a majority of elected officials are not nearly smart enough to be responsible for making decisions we afford them. Unfortunately, we're stuck with them, because the smart people go into other lines of work. In The Campaign, comedic heavyweight and incumbent Will Ferrell and up-and-coming-and-almost-here Zach Galifianakis, who can be called that because I can now spell his name without Googling him, square off as rival politicians. Both play idiots as the two actors are wont to do, but unfortunately the movie is not a sum of its parts.
The Campaign is directed by Jay Roach, best known for Austin Powers and Meet the Parents, but also responsible for undesirables such as Meet the Fockers and the Galifianakis-starring Dinner for Schmucks. Writer Shawn Harwell has done nothing other than some "Eastbound & Down" episodes, and his co-conspirator Chris Henchy is responsible for such Will Ferrell disappointments as The Other Guys and Land of the Lost.
In other words, the talent betrays what to expect in The Campaign.
The movie is not a Land of the Lost disaster, nor is it as weird and cruel as Dinner for Schmucks. It is a safe comedy. A safe, R-rated comedy that features a baby getting punched in the face and a sex tape involving popsicles.
The comedy is routine, largely relying on Ferrell to act like Will Ferrell and Galifianakis to act like Zach Galifianakis, only with a squeakier voice. The film has its moments, and the two stars manage to inject enough energy to the production to keep things interesting. Even when the screenplay falls short, they are still able to evoke some mild laughs.
But a film starring Ferrell and Galifianakis should not simply evoke a few mild laughs. A movie about a political campaign, especially amidst a hotly debated presidential campaign, is rife for humor. And yet The Campaign is largely bland, opting to be goofy when it should be satirical. It wears its political message on its sleeve without any attempt at wit or creativity; this is a story we've seen many times before, but doesn't offer a unique slant on the subject. To seal the deal, Ferrell does not have his A-game, either.
The Campaign is not a complete waste and has enough entertaining moments to string things along, but it fails to live up to its potential. A battle between Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis should be ludicrous, and instead it's just another ho-hum political comedy. Politicians are idiots, but The Campaign doesn't take real advantage.
The Blu-ray contains a gag reel, deleted scenes and an extended version of the film featuring an additional 10 minutes of footage.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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