Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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The Campaign

Film #339


In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man - naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.

Year 1, Day 339

BEFORE: Will Ferrel returns to the movie marathon (last seen in Everything Must Go) along with Zach Galifianakis (last seen in The Hangover Part II) to star in The Campaign. It looks like a run-of-the-mill comedy, so I’m sure I’ll laugh at parts. The question is: will it more than just mildly entertaining?

AFTER: Even watching The Campaign after the big presidential election last year (the film was released three months before the election), it’s scary to see how accurate this film is. Not in terms of issues or the like (very little actual politics is discussed), but in terms of the public perception of politicians. All the TV ads (mostly negative), the wealthy campaign backers, the false promises, public events and debates. It does a good job balancing laughs with an examination of our political culture.

In terms of the overall film, I’d say this was average to slightly above. As a comedy, it made me laugh (that’s good) but it wasn’t consistent (not so good). Two of the funnier moments in the film include incumbent Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) trying to recite the Lord’s Prayer during one of the debates and Raymond Huggins’ (Brian Cox) maid Mrs. Yao (Karen Maruyama). These are actually great examples of two different kinds of general humor, both of which are seen in the film. The first is a targeted joke, or in other words, something that comes and goes. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer was extremely amusing (especially Brady’s interpretations of the signals) and it’s meant only for that scene; you laugh and then move on. The other kind is more of a recurring joke, seen here in the maid. Every time she shows up, you expect to laugh (because she’s a funny character), and I think I did laugh every time (her final scene is by far the funniest). This isn’t meant to generalize the film or it’s comedy, it’s meant to categorize the humor so I can better talk about it. I found myself laughing a lot at specific moments in the film (like the ones mentioned above), but the rest of the film was kind of a lull. Funny but not consistent.

As for the story and it’s message (mostly satire, no big life-changing realizations), it too was just OK. The story - newcomer Marty Higgins (Zach Galifianakis) trying to oust incumbent Cam Brady for U.S. Congressman - is a standard underdog story where many of the developments seem to happen just to further the story as opposed to happening because they should. It’s not written poorly, it’s just nothing that really intrigues you. I must say that the ending was extremely well done and was much more exciting than the rest of the film. It felt natural and it brought some much needed energy. The best part of the film by far was it’s satiric look at our system of politics in the United States. Every thing I mentioned above (TV ads, false promises, etc.) are all covered here and bring the most laughter and the best moments in general. The inclusion of people like Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, and Piers Morgan reporting on the actions and developments in the Congressional race, while probably meant to ground the film a bit, I though just made it that much more ridiculous (that’s a good thing).

The Campaign is about what I expected from it. There were some really great and funny parts and many parts that were just meh. If you have any interest in politics or satire, this is a film you may want to see at some point. Everyone else can add this to their “When I’m bored and looking for things to do” list.

RATING: 3 out of 5