Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are matched impeccably as political rivals in the pitch perfect political parody The Campaign.
Cam Brady (Ferrell) is a four-term congressman from North Carolina who is used to being unopposed in his re-election campaigns. Enter Galifianakis' Marty Huggins, a man with a political family name that makes him appealing to two special interest guys -- Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, who are impeccably cast as lobbyists who believe that Brady's time is done.
If there was an American institution ripe for lampooning it's our modern political campaigns and The Campaign benefits from a world gone gonzo in terms of what candidates will do to be elected in the real world.
Ferrell is his usual bombastically brilliant self. He plays Brady like Eddie Van Halen playing a guitar: He knows when to crescendo into a wild wave of power and still hit the softer notes that remind why he is one of the best in the business.
And Galifianakis might be accused of hijacking Jack Black’s performance in Bernie, but since both films shot at the same time, it is just a happy coincidence. His The Campaign character may seem simple, but there’s a fire in him to prove that he’s more than the runt of his politically powerful family.
The roles of the political operatives that run each campaign could not have found two better actors to tackle the man behind the… well, campaign. Dylan McDermott is dark and mean, getting Huggins in shape -- literally and figuratively -- to successfully wage his campaign. Jason Sudeikis is Brady’s right-hand man, someone who has done an impeccable job corralling a wild card if there ever was one.
The story could not be in better hands with its director, Jay Roach. The man behind the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents films is as adept at maneuvering a comedy towards success as anyone working in the last fifteen years.
The tit for tat that Brady and Huggins extol on each other is for the most part, pieces of an instant comedy classic puzzle. There are elements that could have been pumped up in the humor department, but they are rare. In fact, the film is more cerebral in its ability to bring the comedy while poking a sharpened knife of humor at our political process, circa 2012.
Since the studio behind The Campaign, Warner Bros., has waged an ad campaign that has featured Galifianakis and Ferrell -- in character -- essentially asking audiences to vote for their favorite, let Movie Fanatic in our review suggest something out of left field: How about the two finish in a tie for funniest man in America while the true winner is the viewers?
We get to spend our time during The Campaign doing something our Congressional inhabitants have unfortunately managed to do in real life… excite us into action -- the action of laughing hysterically. The institution's approval rating is as low as it's ever been and that is exactly why The Campaign may have the best timing of a political comedy as we've ever seen.