Film Review: The Campaign
I went out and saw The Campaign on Labor Day. As the harbinger of beginning of fall and the death of summer, Labor Day is generally a depressing day. My thinking was that seeing a comedy could potentially lift my spirits and send me into the year with a renewed sense of optimism. Sadly, The Campaign was unable to meet my admittedly high expectations.
After a characteristically solid meal at Chili’s, during which the waitress asked me if I was “familiar with the menu” at Chili’s, I headed out to see it Monday night at 8:30. I will say that the theatre experience itself probably contributed to my disappointment in the film. Comedy films, especially broad ones like The Campaign, are always better in a big crowded theatre, preferably with a few people laughing hysterically at every Zach Galifianakis one-liner.
This theatre was just like that, only the exact opposite. There were 11 people in the theatre; me and the person I went with, a teenage girl and her mother (?), some older looking dude and his girlfriend/wife, a random 40ish year old lady, and a group of kids who came into the theatre laughing hysterically and then did not laugh once the entire movie. I felt like anytime I laughed, it was magnified times a thousand because of the eerie silence that permeated the room.
Anyway, on to the movie. The Campaign is a pretty basic political satire. Will Ferrell plays a Bill Clinton-esque politician who’s been in the House of Representatives for some time now and has settled into a comfortable life of womanizing and doing as little work as possible. Galifianakis plays the same character he plays in every movie, a weird man-child with a good heart. He gets recruited by a team of political lobbyist (Dan Akroyd and that guy from Harry and the Hendersons) who want a patsy in that seat so they can put some Chinese factories in the United States.
Let’s be honest; if you’re looking for an inspired plot in a Will Ferrell movie you’ve come to the wrong place. The movie gives Ferrell plenty of the goofy, SNL-inspired gags that he loves, none of which were particularly funny. Also, since they showed every humorous part of this film in the trailer, it wasn’t exactly a surprise seeing him get attacked by a snake while trying to appeal to the Christian-right (which doesn’t even make sense; why would a Democrat think he had any chance with the Christian right?) and so on.
For a film about politics, The Campaign is sorely lacking in any type of message, other than a generic “let’s all treat each other civilly” one the film pulls out of nowhere in the last 15 minutes. It seems to be a trend in comedy these days that no matter how ridiculous a movie’s premise, the third act is going to see the characters learn some type of life lesson. In a movie as dull as The Campaign, the only lesson I needed was to stop paying 11 bucks to watch bad movies.
Final Analysis: Shockingly mediocre.