Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star in this comedy about two competing South Carolina politicians who duke it out for congressional supremacy. Directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents). Now playing nationwide.
With films like Everything Must Go and Casa De Mi Padre, Will Ferrell has demonstrated a desire to extend beyond his well-established oafish on-screen comedic persona. None of that desire is present in The Campaign. They could've called it Ron Burgundy Runs For Congress.
While newer to the movie star game, Zach Galifianakis has now carried a specific movie persona through three big movies, and his character here (Ferrell's political rival) does little to go beyond that.
So with two big actors on autopilot and actual modern politics resembling a broad farce at the best of times, The Campaign can't help but give off an air of reaching for low-hanging fruit.
That said, I laughed out loud more than three times, which is my litmus test for any movie comedy. They managed not to spoil ALL the best jokes in the trailer, and the film doesn't outstay its welcome.
Good work is done by supporting players like Dylan McDermott (as a shadowy political consultant) and Katherine LaNasa as Ferrell's shrill wife. I got excited when John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd showed up as two characters clearly inspired by the legendary Duke brothers from Trading Places, but the script doesn't give them much to do.
With shows like The Colbert Report setting a new standard for biting political satire, a film like The Campaign feels a little thin (especially when it reaches for last minute seriousness), but if you're partial to either Ferrell or Galifianakis' schtick, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.