The Campaign: Ticking all the wrong boxes

With US election year upon us yet again, the timing could not possibly be better for a comedy satirizing the extreme excesses of politicians who will say or do almost anything to get elected.

Despite this, The Campaign is a hit-and-miss affair that falls far short of the mark. Absurd, abusive and annoyingly familiar, this latest Ferrell film had the potential to be witty, sharp and incisive… but, with director Jay Roach (Fockers franchise) at the helm, it ends up being nothing more than another run-of-the-mill film of the jerk-off genre.

Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a North Carolina congressman who has run unopposed for many a term, enjoying the perks of power with very little regard for actual public service. When Cam’s philandering ways land him in the media cross-hairs,  his rock-hard platform of “Family, Jesus, Freedom” shows enough cracks to motivate money hungry business types Glenn and Wade Motch (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) to sponsor a new candidate to oppose Brady.

Enter Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the eccentric son of a wealthy family, who actually does care for his community. At first Marty seems to be nothing more than a simple-minded small-towner drowning in the treacherous waters of American politics, but under the guidance of a cutthroat campaign manager (Dylan McDermott), the oddball newcomer starts to gain serious ground on the favored incumbent.

Though not as side-splittingly funny as some of Ferrell’s earlier films, The Campaign does serve as a chillingly accurate (if slightly exaggerated) portrayal of US elections. The films genius lies in its premise – that a go-for-broke, no-holes-barred comedy might just be the only way to deal with the harsh reality of modern-day politics…

But even the brilliance of a great idea and an all-star cast can’t reverse the ratings black hole that is Jay Roach. Definitely one to avoid.

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