By Don Simpson | August 12, 2012
Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, Karen Maruyama, Grant Goodman, Kya Haywood, Randall Cunningham, Madison Wolfe, Thomas Middleditch
For better or worse, the United States finds itself teetering on the verge of becoming an Oligarchy (or Corporatocracy) under the guise of capitalism and free enterprise. Just as money makes the world go round, it is money that determines who will be elected into our government. Money also determines whether or not any legislation will garner enough support to become a law. Oddly enough, despite the extreme (and sometimes violent) polarization of our nation’s two political parties, almost everyone seems to agree on this; but rather than doing anything about it, we just point fingers, blaming it all on the other side. Politicians provide us with endless lip service about changing the way things work in D.C. The problem is our political system is structured in such a way that things will never change and the three branch system of the U.S. government serves one purpose, to ensure that. The political environment is one of compromise, which means it is reliant upon persuasive powers and there is nothing more persuasive in our society than money. The two party political system is all about compromise as well, leaving most Americans with the option of voting for the better of two apparent evils or not voting at all. What can we, the general public, do about this stinking mess? Well, according to Jay Roach’s The Campaign the solution is to sit back and laugh at the political tomfoolery.
The Campaign presents us with a political climate that is puppeted by the purse strings of billionaire brothers, Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd). The Motch brothers’ bankroll carries so much persuasive power that it can instantly transform a stereotypical loser like Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) into a viable candidate. On the other side, we are presented with the long-term incumbent Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) who has historically run uncontested. The Motch brothers have one goal, to get Cam out of office; but Cam will not go down without a ridiculously long and drawn out fight.
What could have been a biting political satire, The Campaign comes off as totally toothless and downright stupid. Other than its all-too-easy condemnation of the Motch brothers (who are modeled after the all-too-easy targets, the Koch brothers), Roach opts to not offend anyone…except his audience. The plot is a directionless blob that serves the sole purpose of setting up a non-stop barrage of absurdist humor.
If The Campaign is about anything, it would be the horrors of one-upmanship. Just as Marty and Cam try their darndest to out do each other, Galifianakis and Ferrell are fully immersed in their own no holds barred competition for pulling off the most outlandish gags. Sure, some of the jokes are funny, but Galifianakis and Ferrell are trying way too hard. A little restraint would have really gone a long way.