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Saturday, 11 August 2012

REVIEW OF THE CAMPAIGN



About The Movie:
The Campaign (formerly known as Dog Fight and Rivals) is a 2012 comedy film starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two Southerners vying for a seat in Congress to represent their small district. The screenplay for the film was written by Eastbound & Down writer Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy, and is directed by Jay Roach.
Camden "Cam" Brady (Will Ferrell) is the congressman of the 14th District of North Carolina and is running for a fifth term unopposed. His campaign, coordinated by his old friend, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis) is based on Cam's public image as a a law-abiding Christian husband and father, which is undermined when Cam's affair with a woman he met in one of rallies is exposed through a sexually explicit voice message that Cam accidentally leaves in the answering machine of a local family.
Corrupt businessmen Glen Motch (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) use this opportunity to convince Martin "Marty" Huggins (Zack Galifianakis), director of the tourism center of the town of Hammond and son of one of the Motch Brothers' associates, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), to run against Cam, as part of a plan to profit from illegal dealings with Chinese companies. Marty announces that he is running against Cam, who underestimates Marty and humiliates him by playing a video biography highlighting Marty's dim-witted nature. The Motch Brothers then hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty's campaign manager. Tim reinvents Marty as a successful entrepreneur and family man, and the competition between Cam and Marty begins.
Marty popularity rises due to his effective campaign, while Cam loses his after accidentally punching a baby during a rally against Marty. Cam then ruins a campaign portraying Marty as a terrorist and support of Al Qaeda, while Marty exposes Cam as a fake Christian. Cam's attempts to display his religiousness by visiting a church of snake handlers result in him getting bitten by a snake. The video is leaked into the Internet and goes viral, restoring some of Cam's popularity.
Cam realizes he's setting a bad example for his son, who is planning to slander his competition for class president, and visits Marty hoping to make amends. A drunken Cam tells Marty that he became a politician to help people, citing that as class president in elementary school, he took a dangerous rusty slide out of the playground. After he leaves, Marty is convinced by Wattley to report Cam to the police, and he is pulled over and arrested for DUI, which takes a toll on his campaign. Marty also portrays Cam as dim-witted by publishing a "communist manifesto" that Cam had written in 2nd grade, and later showing a video of Cam's son addressing Marty as "dad". Cam becomes furious, and fight breaks out between the two, resulting in Cam punching a famous dog and once more suffering in his popularity levels. Cam gets revenge on Marty by seducing Marty's neglected wife, Mitzy (Sarah Baker) and releasing the sex tape, humiliating the Huggins family, and in the process causing a disgusted Mitch to leave, while Marty retaliates by shooting Cam's leg during a hunting trip and claiming to be an accident.
As the election nears, Marty meets with Raymond and the Motch Brothers, and learns of their plans to sell Hammond to their Chinese business partner and turn the entire town into a large series of factories. Marty realizes he was manipulated all along and rejects the Motch Brothers' support, refusing to allow them to destroy Hammond. In order not to lose their investment, the Motch Brothers attempt to sway Cam into helping them by having Wattley revitalize Cam's public image, while Marty goes back to his old self and reconciles with his estranged family.
On the election day, Cam's victory appears to be certain, until Marty comes forward and exposes the Motch Brothers' intent, promising to preserve Hammond if elected. Despite this, Cam wins and remains congressman, due to the voting machines being owned by the Motch Brothers. However, while gloating to Huggins, Huggins said he looked up to Brady in school for getting rid of the slide, showing his large scars to Brady. Realizing he has lost touch with his true objectives as a politician, he withdraws from the election, and Marty wins by default. Cam earns back Mitch's respect, and Marty appoints Cam as his chief of staff.
Six months later, Marty and Cam carefully take down the Motch Brothers by exposing the scandals in which their associates are involved, finally having the Motch Brothers called to appear before the Congress for their shady dealings. Although the Motch Brothers are able to use constitutional loopholes to have their business plans categorized as "legal", they are arrested for providing assistance to Wattley, who is actually a international fugitive known as "The Greek Butcher". Marty and Cam celebrate their newfound friendship as the Motch Brothers are carried away to jail.
 What Is Good About The Movie:
The Campaign is such a tasty, hilarious treat. It's a bombs-away lampoon of the contemporary political process, and damned if the movie isn't just funny but smart. It's every inch a Will Ferrell comedy. But The Campaign is also comparable, in ambition and perception, to comedies like Wag the DogBulworth, and Idiocracy. The film was directed not by Ferrell's usual collaborator, Adam McKay, but by Jay Roach, the Austin Powers auteur who went on to make the very fine HBO political dramas Recount and Game Change. And it's all about how politics in America has become a money-drenched, media-mad hall of mirrors — not only corrupt but as prefab as an infomercial. It's about how the whole thing is now a game of charades.

In The Campaign, the candidates have no ideas, and nothing much going on beneath their carefully crafted images, but their superficiality does serve a purpose — they're idiots because they're puppets. Cam, with his red-and-blue-striped ties, Rotary Club haircut, and stump speech consisting of canned slogans ("America, Jesus, freedom!") that he spews with stiff-armed, market-tested rectitude, speaks not in coherent ideological thoughts but in focus-grouped signifiers. "My father worked with his hands," he says, the words delivered with bootstrap pride (that is, before he adds "as head stylist for Vidal Sassoon"). He's a reactionary on autopilot (and a closet horndog), and he thinks he's going into the election unopposed. But when he gets ensnared by a sex scandal, the Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd), a pair of conservative billionaires who are thinly veiled riffs on the Koch brothers, decide to back a candidate of their own.

That's Marty, of course, the most pliable man they can find — a tour guide who wears awesomely ugly cardigan sweaters and speaks in the caressing Southern-wuss manner of Mister Rogers crossed with the Church Lady. He's a husband and dad, but as emasculated as you could imagine, and Galifianakis gives a performance that's over-the-top ludicrous and also strangely sympathetic. Marty is given a ruthless campaign manager (Dylan McDermott) who puts him through the ultimate makeover, and the funny thing is how well it takes. Spouting canned "values" rhetoric, he actually becomes a plausible candidate.
In its ramped-up media-farce way, The Campaign leaves no satirical stone unturned. There are terrific parodies of the mud-bath unreality of negative advertising in the Super PAC era, plus great scandalous gags about outsourcing and house servants. But perhaps the best thing about the film is that it doesn't let those other players in the political process off the hook: the voters. The sly upshot of The Campaign is that American politics may now have achieved a level of fakery that's ridiculous, but the most ridiculous thing about the fakery is that it works.

What Is Bad About The Movie:

I can't think of anything.

Overall Grade:

A

6 comments:

  1. I just got back in from seeing this. I died laughing like 12 times. But it got hella stupid at the end

    -_Cogito

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a huge hate on for all things Will Ferrel. I don't know why, but every time I see him I want to slam a car door on his head. It's weird, because i don't even know why.

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    2. So you wouldn't see the movie for Zach's sake?

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    3. No one is worth subjecting myself to two hours of Ferrell. I learned that watching "Stepbothers". (sorry John)

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