Film review: THE CAMPAIGN from Built For Speed

The Campaign tries to fit a political comedy into the Will Ferrell movie template which means we have the joy of seeing Ferrell go nuts but also a plot so predictable that you will feel like Nostradamus as you watch the film. Just imagine Talladega Nights nascar driver Ricky Bobby as a politician and you’ll have a pretty good idea what you’re in for.

Ferrell plays Cam Brady a Romneyesque Republican governor from North Carolina who has enjoyed a remarkably long stint in office purely because he has always run unopposed. All that changes when the super-rich Motch brothers (Dan Ackroyd and John Lithgow) – who are suspiciously reminiscent of the Dukes in Trading Places – decide to put a stooge, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) up against Ferrell, purely to further their business interests.

Huggins is an innocent, ultra-dorky Ned Flanders type who loves a skivvy and cardigan combo and has no stomach for the brutal dog fight of politics. He seems easy meat for the unscrupulous Brady until a mysterious and sinister campaign manager (Dermot Mulroney) does a malevolent Henry Higgins job on Marty and begins to turn him into a political monster.

The film attempts an uneasy mix of political satire and low brow humour with clever and disturbingly accurate parodies of campaign speak, hideously manipulative political ads and outrageous corporate lobbying mixed in with genital and bestiality gags.

A few too many of the gags fall flat and the plot soon slots into a predictable pattern. Still, it’s always amusing to watch Ferrell’s indignant facial expressions and psychotic tantrums as his crazed but earnest behaviour causes his world to crash around him. Like Larry David and Ricky Gervais, Ferrell can create characters that are despicable but affectionate at the same time. Also, like those two, Ferrell has an hilarious way with the F word which he puts to fine effect in this film.

This is a middling comedy and given the comic star power on show we would have expected something more memorable but there are enough genuine laughs to at least satisfy fans of the two leads.


Nick’s rating:  Two and a half stars.

Classification: MA 15

Director(s): Jay Roach

Release date: 9 August 2012

Running time:  1hr 25mins.

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