If Will Ferrell is the king of outrageously ridiculous characters set in plausible situations then Zach Galifinakis is the heir to the throne. The comedian who shot to fame after his role as the oddball brother-in-law Alan in the hit “The Hangover” is fast becoming Hollywood's go-to guy to play extreme eccentrics. You would think the pairing of these two hams in the political comedy “The Campaign” would be a recipe for the most hilarious movie of the year, but unfortunately issues with the script hold this movie back from realizing its full potential.
Ferrell plays Cam Brady an incumbent North Carolina congressman who is running for re-election unopposed a fifth time. As a career "America, Jesus, Freedom" platform politician, Brady is acclimated to a lifestyle that few can afford. He's corrupt, he's a philanderer and he's out out of touch with the common man.
One doesn't have to look deep to see intentional parodies of politicians like John Edwards or even Mitt Romney. Ferrell borrows from his experience lampooning G.W. Bush during his years at Saturday Night Live and the HBO special “You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush” and creates a genuine amusingly dislikable character.
Galifanakis plays Marty Huggins, an innocent effeminate who owns a company that provides tours of Hammond, North Carolina, a town so small it's lone celebrity visitor was Rosie Perez when she got "turned around on the highway." Marty longs for a chance to make his politically powerful father (“The Bourne Supremacy's” Brian Cox) proud.
He gets his opportunity when two unscrupulous businessmen decide to invest in his unlikely campaign against Brady. They plan on having the politician in their pocket to essentially own the town of Hammond.
Not only facing an opponent for the first time but one with tons of money and a skilled mysterious campaign manager (Dylan McDermott), Brady attempts to one up his challenger at every turn. He succeeds in imploding and creating collateral damage around him including innocent babies and pets.
The premise of “The Campaign” provides plenty of opportunity for the talented cast to be as funny as we know they all can be. There are campaign speeches that focus on conversations between Chinese Pugs named Muffins & Pound Cake and there are hilarious candidate approved commercials and drunken high-speed chases.
All in all this is a funny and entertaining movie. Director Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents”) conducts this film in the same key as oddball comedies like "Billy Madison" complete with eccentric characters like the Asian maid who speaks in Black antebellum dialect.
There was a ton of potential for this to be one of the funniest movies ever with a supporting cast full of "A-list" co-stars including Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeilis and comedy legends Dan Aykroyed and John Lithgow.
Disappointingly though, a few huge plot holes and an ending that feels rushed and a by-product of lazy writing prevents this from being as successful and entertaining as I hoped it would have been.