Review: The Campaign
"War has rules, mud wrestling has rules -- politics has no rules."
This quote opens the new movie The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents series. Scripted by Chris Henchy (Land of the Lost) and Shawn Harwell (Eastbound & Down), this raunchy political comedy takes Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis through an escalating battle of wills guided by the Perot quote.
Though the humor is tongue-in-cheek, there is no pretense at subtlety in this film. Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow play the Motch brothers, parodies of real-life industrialists the Koch brothers. Hoping to profit from the passage of unprecedented labor and environmental laws in Congress, the pair decide to back Zach Galifianakis' Marty Huggins in a race against previously unopposed candidate Cam Brady (Will Ferrell). Thus begins a rivalry that takes the pair through such incidents as baby punching and snake dancing.
While aiming a very sardonic mirror at the American electorate and electoral process, The Campaign concerns itself with a focus on the undue influence of money in the politics of both parties and switches around the stereotypical roles of each party. As Cam Brady, Ferrell looks and spouts rhetoric vaguely like a caricature of Republican George W Bush, though the character is a Democrat. His opponent Marty Huggins, though Republican, dresses and acts like the misfit lovechild of Stuart Smalley and Leslie Jordan and speaks up for the little guys.
Driven by their campaign managers (Jason Sudeikis and an aggressively sleazy Dylan McDermott), the candidates find their poll numbers go up each time they commit increasingly objectionable acts and alienate their families.
Between Talladega Nights and The Campaign, Will Ferrell has shown he gives some of his best performances playing rednecks and Southerners. He's hilarious in this movie, as is Galifianakis. Some of the funniest moments, however, are in scenes with the supporting cast. Karen Maruyama and Jack McBrayer in particular steal the show. Well timed for release in the middle of a national election season, The Campaign is a refreshing and hilarious look at politics that doesn't devolve into political rhetoric.