The Campaign review

Forget Mitt and Obama - what happens when Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis go head to head?

Poking fun at the dirty side of big politics just as the US Presidential race enters the home stretch, ‘The Campaign’ couldn’t have come at a better time. Anyone watching in America will already be sick of the rampant electioneering on their TV screens every night, but this is a film for anyone who has ever cringed at the empty promises, fake smiles and kissed babies begging for their vote every few years. Putting slapstick over satire, ‘The Campaign’ strings its politicians up as hapless piñatas, but it stops short of drawing any real blood. It might go down as a blunted ‘Mr Smith Goes To Washington’ with more sex jokes, but there’s still plenty of big laughs to be had.

Funnymen... The Campaign (Copyright:

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is the congressman for Hammond, North Carolina. Running unopposed for years, not bothering to read his bills, sleeping with interns in Portaloos and covering up embarrassing phone calls – he’s your average career politician. Backed by two billionaire businessman, the Motch Brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd – in a not-so-thinly-veiled nod to the Kotch Brothers backing Mitt Romney in the 2012 election), Brady starts to worry the people pulling his strings when his latest sex scandal gets out of control. Enter Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). The idiot son of another rich political sceneshifter (Brian Cox), Marty spends his day running the local tourist board, walking his two Pugs and acting like a camp Ned Flanders.  Sensing that he might make an easier puppet to help get their illegal slave-labour laws into North Carolina, the Motch Brothers stand him on the podium beside Brady and give him a crash-course in dirty politics. With both men now having to fight for the same seat, it doesn’t take long before the mud-slinging starts – which, as you’d expect from a Will Ferrell film, means sex tapes, fist fights, punching babies and all out war.

Having developed a healthy sideline in George W Bush impersonations, it would have been easy for Ferrell to play Brady as a wide-eyed idiot. At the same time, Fratpack newbie Galifianakis has carved himself a comedy niche since ‘The Hangover’ with his oddball eccentrics – perfect casting for the mincing dog-lover Marty Huggins. Whilst neither steps too far out of their comfort zone, Ferrell reigns in the buffoonery – and Galifianakis isn’t quite as annoying as usual – leaving room for the occasional sharp edge to poke through the all the silliness.  Director Jay Roach (‘Austin Powers’, ‘Meet The Parents’, ‘Borat’) keeps things broad, but he can’t go too far wrong letting his two stars loose with the script. Although it never quite reaches the surreal genius of ‘Anchorman’, it’s nice to see Ferrell back on top form after a patchy last few years.

Rating: 3/5

Out 28 September
Certificate: 15