The Campaign

When incumbent congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major gaffe on the campaign trail, wealthy donors the Motch Brothers (Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow) back a new horse in the form of Marty Huggins (Zac Galifianakis), a softly-spoken local dork who’s far from your typical congressional candidate. But who will be first past the post?

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Not since Aung San Suu Kyi has something with so much potential turned out to be so awful. The Campaign starts strongly with Will Ferrell telling groups of various professions that they’re the backbone of America, while doing a spot-on George W. Bush impression. And it bites the ballot with jokes that  are the stuff of genuine political satire throughout. There’s the slick campaign manager (Dylan McDermott) who’s brought in to make Huggins electable, digs at big money in politics, and even a reference to unreliable voting machines.

Yet promise of a smart comedy turns out to be electoral fraud as the desire to be politically incorrect takes it into the realms of gratuitous offence to the point it deserves to lose its deposit. It’s sexist, it’s racist, it’s anti-animal, it’s anti-children and it features a lot of the kind of excruciating humour which is why I never watch Will Ferrell movies. One moment of such hilarity involves Brady punching a dog, in another he punches a baby, and scene after scene is utterly excruciating to watch.

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Released in 2012, it’s hard to tell if the denigration of American politics shown, as Brady sees his poll numbers go up in response to his outrageous behaviour (including a sex tape with his opponent’s wife), is prescient or just trying to be as outrageous as possible. Either way it’s depressing that this is now reality.

With all the good moments outweighed by the nasty tone and offensive humour, this film doesn’t get my vote, and is the worst campaign since Change UK. By the time the credits roll the only office you’ll want to run for is one far away from this film, and compared to other political satires (Dave, In the Loop) it’s tandem inter pares.

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