Champions of Democracy
With the US Presidential Elections gaining traction and going into its final leg before the polls in November, it's probably natural that a comedy about American politics gets released into the cinemas to capitalize on election fever, as well as to lampoon the various strategies, and poke fun on the candidates who would be more than inclined to say the darnedest things that don't make too much sense, or to behave in a hypocritical manner, all of which are fodder to be made fun of.
Directed by Jay Roach, who is no stranger to those who enjoy the trilogy of Austin Powers films, The Campaign put two current funny men together, and watch them explode as they rib each other to shreads as part of the political hustings to garner more votes by discrediting the other. It's never more than just to share one's plans for the electorate when elected, or to reveal and convince them of one's programs, but to take the more interesting approach to character assassinate, and utilize the power of the media, and one's carefully built persona as perception for the voting public.
Comedy aside, this film lays down very real issues and problems with politics anywhere around the world, and that is more worrying, whether the right people are shunning serving the community, and the wrong people with the wrong motives seeking office instead, so as to further the reserves in their coffers, or that of their supporters with the tacit understanding that the interests of those who had backed one's campaign should be looked on favourably, with any meeting conducted to discuss these terms deemed never having been convened. Corporations are also seen as shady organizations when they contribute to campaign funds, and in truth with money talking these days, can make or hurt politicians chances by playing up or down their capabilities or screw ups. It's been some time seeing Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow on screen, and here they play unscrupulous businessmen who are looking at in-sourcing and exploitation of cheap labour, selling out their state/country once they have their preferred candidate occupy office.
As you would have learnt from the trailer, The Campaign pits Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two politicians getting at each others throats from the get go. For the former, as Democratic incumbent Cam Brady, unopposed for the most parts of his career given walkovers, his seeking office probably had to do with the satiation of his sexual desires, with a major boo boo involving a dirty message left on someone else's answering machine doing him in. As for Galifianakos' Marty Huggins, he got plucked out of obscurity just because he happens to be the son of a well known, but retired politician, and got thrust into the limelight having sold the idea of doing his father proud, and to lend a hand doing something worthwhile for society.
So it's a fight that's filled with plenty of dirty tricks, mostly centered around character assassination from both camps in tit for tat fashion, providing ammunition for its comedic scenes. The gloves are off in a no holds barred, winner takes all competition that has absolutely no rules, with either side eager to jump on discrediting the opposition camp. And the campaign managers, played by Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott who belong to the Cam Brady and Marty Huggins camps respectively, are hugely responsible for that. The last film seen with campaign managers playing a big part is in George Clooney's Ides of March, with almost the same level of seriousness and intensity seen in The Campaign, especially Dylan McDermott's Tim Wattley who has to build Marty's popularity from scratch, and create a credible candidate out of a dim wit.
For those who appreciate the other Jay Roach comedies, expect the usual toilet humour, and plenty of f-bombs creeping their way into the film. Will Ferrell is also at his element here as the politician who cannot stand losing, blessed with a trophy family, and his pairing with Galifianakis proved to be successful, especially during scenes which they share and have to go one up against the other. Galifianakis continues in his usual roles as none too bright characters having a ball of a time, and here his story arc provided for a little bit of a melodrama, which I thought was a nice touch and a break from the comedy, serving as reminder that family matters, and should take priority rather than being shelved aside for ambition. Or worse, to pretend to lead a lifestyle just because it has the consensus of the majority.
The Campaign runs at a very light 85 minutes, although it did feel a little longer than that, especially in the final few scenes that dwelled into back stories built up to provide a little bit more character motivation and common history. Still, it's entertaining, funny for the most parts, and relevant, and if we don't have much power to change the rot at the polls, the least we can do is to laugh at it. Which is certainly more fun by the way.