The Campaign lacks originality

Miles Anderson

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) takes on the ridiculous underdog, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), in this raunchy political parody.

All right ladies and gentlemen: presenting The Campaign, which essentially is Will Ferrell playing the same character he always does!

The Campaign, satirizing modern American politics, pits Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (played by Ferrell) against Republican newcomer Marty Huggins (played by Zach Galifianakis) in a struggle for a crucial North Carolina district.

This movie intended to be another screwball comedy with the same improvisational, slapstick humor that has powered previous Ferrell flicks such as Blades of Glory and Talladega Knights.

But given Ferrell’s previous efforts, this movie might as well have been titled Talladega Knights 2: Ricky Bobby in a Suit and Tie!

Despite its absurdity, The Campaign actually followed a tentative plot line.

Two influential businessmen (played by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) who seemingly control everything in North Carolina politics, are dissatisfied with Brady’s performance: after seven years in Congress, an affair and a sickeningly funny phone call have put Brady in hot water with the media.

Despite this scandal, Brady prepares to serve another term in office until the crafty businessmen decide that a change is necessary. They call in the unassuming Huggins, who works as a lowly tour guide in a town with about as much historical intrigue as an episode of Jersey Shore.

Instantly, Huggins’ new political entourage transforms the formerly feminine and dainty tour guide into a macho, gun-slinging Republican incumbent.

This is where the movie- and the satire-kicks up a notch. The audience is thrown into the middle of a no-holds-barred verbal cage match where the two candidates literally and figuratively pull no punches.

The first half hour of The Campaign is dynamite, with plenty of humor discreetly mocking the lewd behavior of recent political figures.

Director Jay Roach immediately stages a political debate that showcases Ferrell and Galifianakis’ (yes, I spell checked that five times) comedic chemistry, displaying the irrational tendencies of American voters with brilliant satire.

From there, the movie goes downhill.

The sexual jokes grow a bit tiresome by the latter half of the film, culminating in a grotesque sex scene that was creepier than it was funny.

Through the last portion of this movie, Roach seemed to throw a kitchen sink of jokes at the audience, and as the comedy rolled along, the hilarity from the first 45 minutes all but disappeared.

When Ferrell and Galifianakis were apart, the movie suffered. Some of the comedy missed its mark, and although Galifianakis’ mannerisms and accent were initially hilarious, they, like the movie, grew stale.

And unlike some of his earlier films, Ferrell’s comedy did not maintain my interest throughout the whole movie.  At some points I felt like I watching an episode of Jerry Springer instead of a Ferrell movie.

The movie seemed to realize that it was getting old too, because it abruptly ended with a final act that I could see from a mile away.

That being said, the producers of The Campaign timed its release perfectly, given that the real-life election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is quickly approaching.

Coming out of the theater, I couldn’t help but think that the crude behavior exhibited in The Campaign was closer to reality than society might want to admit.

The Campaign is a typical low-blow Ferrell comedy that perpetuates stereotypes and often delivers chuckles rather than deep belly laughs.

It was a less-funny Austin Powers film, a movie that was also coincidentally directed by Roach. But unlike The Campaign, the majority of the jokes in Austin Powers actually worked, and the movie originated from a fictional, far fetched scenario rather than the mundane and traditional American game called politics.