The Campaign (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Campaign</strong> (2012)

(On-demand Video, December 2012)  After a year in which a singularly bland US presidential campaign still managed to dominate media attention, everyone was ripe for a silly comedy lampooning the American electoral process.  So it is that The Campaign creates a face-off between gifted comedians Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two men vying for a US congressman slot.  This very local-level comedy works in part because it controls its lead comedians effectively, and in part because it tries to push the absurdity of modern US politics to its breaking point.  Punching babies, hitting dogs, political ads spiced by amateur pornography, intentional shootings, pervasive profanity and other gags are all part of the plot, but the real insanity here is all-too-familiar.  (The film gets its most acid laugh from a simple shot showing how deeply moneyed interest have perverted the electoral process at the ballot box itself.)  Of course, it’s crude, blunt and unsubtle: It’s a Jay Roach film, after all, and he seems intent here on producing a gonzo counterpart to his more nuanced work on Game Change.  As a comedy, it delivers: there’s a laugh every few minutes, and smiles throughout.  Both lead actors are dedicated to their characters, and the level of obscenity seems carefully restrained to get laughs while avoiding going too far.  While The Campaign may not have much of a shelf life in the long run, it’s good enough at the moment, and should find a modest audience.

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