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Review: The Campaign

Seriously, Will Ferrell punches a baby in the face. He punches a baby in the face. I died.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realise that this film will not be for everyone. The guy next to me remained silent throughout and only slightly tittered about once or twice, and that was whilst everyone around him was erupting in hysteria. There was clearly something wrong with his soul.

But it is no way near as offensive as say, ‘Hangover 2,’ or indeed any of the Sascha Baron Cohen collection. There is much less nudity and racial slurs in this instance. The director, Jay Roach, is mostly known for ‘Meet the Parents’ and the ‘Austin Powers’ films. And you can definitely see that here. At times, it really is just madness and carnage. There is a sex tape. And dogs, as well as babies, do get punched.

The plot centres on Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifanakis.) Cam Brady is a democrat running for congress, Marty is a director of tourism for their local town of Hammond. Cam, it seems, is spurred on by his ruthless womanizing and narcissism, Marty by two siblings who are in it simply for their own gain- aka dirty dealings and plenty of dirty money in their pockets as a result. Imagine Alan circa ‘The Hangover 1” but with a lisp and the bustling walk of a tiny but very determined dwarf. Oh, and his voice will most likely make you explode. It’s like a mid western hick on helium. If any of you die-hard Galifanakis fans have ever seen him impersonate his fake cousin, Seth Galifanakis, you know what I’m talking about. You know.

It starts off very strong. Ferrell delivers a stellar performance, managing to punch the baby pretty early on and to also leave sexually inappropriate voicemail messages that are then leaked to the press. And of course, Galifanakis is superb. It’s clever, though. Roach could have played it simple for us. He could have thrown in a couple more punching scenes, a couple more f-bombs, perhaps a few standard clips of Ferrell screaming like a little girl. And just, really, left it at that. But he didn’t. Amidst the outrageous debauchery, the lies, the scheming and the general absurdity, there is a definite jab towards the American Political system. Yet this never becomes too screamingly obvious, nor does it get forgotten in the madness.

As each of their campaigns gets into full swing, each tries to set the other up for ridicule in front of the nation. There is something to be said for both Roach’s and Galifanakis’ ability to present a man who has gone from squeaky clean Carolina husband to a practically ruthless politician, who is now almost on a par with Brady in his treachery. It is almost reminiscent of Breaking Bads Walter White, or, as viewers know him, high school teacher turned powerful drug lord. Well, minus the southern twang and pug dogs.

The film poses interesting questions, without appearing too cliché or cringe worthy; how far will you go for success and fame? Who will you leave behind in the process? How much should we really trust, respect and believe the leaders of our country? And, most importantly, how much do we respect our own integrity and others around us?

My one issue with ‘The Campaign,’ emphasis on the word ‘one’ there, was that the ending is almost too sentimental to fit in accordance with the previous scenes of the film. It was frustrating. Roach had created the perfect equilibrium between sincerity and hilarity. Until the final 15-20 minutes, when it feels as though he becomes slightly lost and uncertain in the main purpose of his final product. That is not to say Ferrell and Galifanakis don’t pull this off well because they do. They do a fine job. But, ironically, it was more that their final comedic performances actually saved ‘The Campaign” from falling flat. It perhaps became too ambitious for it’s own good at that point.

Overall? Excellent. A near perfect formula of humour and profound moral messages that don’t make you want to puke. It makes you laugh and it makes you think a little. That’s all you want, really.

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