The Daily Gamecock

Simpson votes against Ferrell film ‘Campaign’

Political comedy falls short of expectations

Chinese labor to work in North Carolina factories. Enter Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis), a naïve tourism center director who looks like he's stepped out of a 1950s J.C. Penny catalog. He's a bit of a small town prissypants, aiming to clean up the Washington, D.C., mess.

To turn him into the viable political candidate, the Motch brothers hire ninja-like political expert Tim Watley (Dylan McDermott) to give Marty's likability a complete overhaul. And he will need it, since Brady is not against using dirty tactics like claiming Marty is a member of Al-Queda and sleeping with Marty's wife, often against the advice of his level-headed campaign manager (Jason Sudeikis).

For a movie that's seemingly a satire of the American election process, there isn't much satire within the comedy. The core of "The Campaign's" comedy consists of increasingly absurd hostilities between Brady and Huggins that ridiculously result in an increase in their likability, from spite sex tapes to "hunting accidents." The movie's golden moment comes when Brady accidentally punches a baby that Huggins was about to kiss.

Swings are taken at the oxymoronic use of slogan-slinging and attack ads used in the American elections as well as how greed overpowers politics. But again, this is your average Will Ferrell comedy, so don't expect it to be deep.

The movie would be better if not for one key factor: the story, because, borrowing from Marty Huggin's campaign slogan, "It's a mess."

Screenwriters Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell seem like they don't know what to do with the story. There's an uneven flow between all of the absurdity and a couple of sentimental moments, like how the campaign is affecting both candidates' family life.

Ferrell is just as funny as always, but Brady isn't as likable as Ferrell's characters in "Anchorman," "Elf" and "Talladega Nights." There are sentimental moments where Brady regrets not spending enough time with his son, but he comes off as an outspoken jerk that will do whatever it takes to win.

Galifianakis is adorable but restrained as the simpleton Marty Huggins. The character does not allow the actor to go all out with the same amount of oafish likability he possessed in "The Hangover" and "Due Date."

This is funny material that the screenwriters are working with, but the deliverance just isn't all there. This rendition of "Trading Places" meets "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" may deliver the laughs, but that doesn't mean that story and characterization aren't important too.


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