And so begins The Campaign, a political farce in which Cam Brady, a congressman from North Carolina, is running for his fifth consecutive term, unopposed. With Brady slipping in the polls, two superrich businessmen decide to encourage a different pushover to run. They subsequently hope to control their patsy to sign legislation favorable to their own interests. Cue Marty Huggins, an effete, sweater vest wearing tour guide with two pugs, a zaftig wife named Mitzi and two chubby sons. With 8 weeks to go in the election, he enters the race. What follows is a back and forth game of one-upmanship as the two candidates clash with each other on the campaign trail.
Overall The Campaign is entertaining. Surprisingly most of the jokes are fairly non-partisan, guaranteed not to offend either side. In fact the biggest laughs have nothing to do with politics at all. Given the hostile and polarizing political environment, perhaps the path of least resistance is best. When Marty warns his family they will soon be under a lot of media scrutiny, he encourages them to divulge any secrets so as not be revealed publicly as a surprise later. The scandalous confessions that follow are an ever increasing litany of sins that grow more and more ridiculous. I’m still laughing at what they said. Unfortunately what starts out as really promising, stumbles with random developments that are silly, but not funny. Marty revealing a story Cam wrote in the 2nd grade about “Rainbow Land” and labeling it a “communist manifesto” at a debate is stupid enough, but when the assembled crowd becomes unglued over the document, the scene lacks the credibility necessary for humor.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis work well together. Seeing Marty Huggins find his mojo and go toe to toe with the greasy Cam Brady is a delight, particularly in their various debates. Despite some obvious lapses in hilarity, The Campaign is an amusing movie. And so it’s truly unfortunate that the conclusion is so wretched. The saccharine resolution is such an utter betrayal of Will Farrell’s character that it’s enough to make you write off the whole picture altogether. I’m talking a complete about face, 180 personality shift with no justification whatsoever. It’s shameful. The thing is, I laughed quite a lot during the first half and so I’m willing to forgive the heinous plot development. If you’re seeking trenchant political satire, look elsewhere. The script has no teeth. However if you want to laugh, this should fit the bill. Vote YES to watching The Campaign, but NO to the worst ending of any comedy all year.