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the campaign2012

Genre: Comedy

Directed by: Jay Roach

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis

With very little being released in cinemas this weekend I decided to return to a film released a few weeks ago, one that the cast list alone had me excited about. Let’s face it, a film that headlines Will Ferrell Vs Zach Galifianakis doing battle via politics should have resulted in a hilariously funny comedy, filled with re-quotable lines and the begging of a sequel in years to come. Sadly, that certainly wasn’t the case.

The perfect comedy cast is let down by a weak regurgitating plot and unenthusiastic direction. The Anchorman style comedy I was expecting never really took off.

Will Ferrell stars as Cam Brady, a Congressman in a Northern Carolina district who is about to be re-elected for his fourth term because no one wishes to run against him. That is until a late night drunken call to a wrong number sees Mr Brady leaving an explicit message meant for his girlfriend on a devout Christian family’s answering phone. Smelling weakness for the first time in years, the mega wealthy Motch Brothers decide to fund an unknown to run against Brady, so they can use the district to open a factory run by the Chinese in order to cut shipping costs for products from China. Their man to run against Brady is Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), a local tourist guide who has very little ambition to become a politician, but simply wants to impress his father.

As Huggins political campaign gets going he is allocated a mentor, who tries to make him into the typical American family-loving man in order to gain the backing of the public. Huggins and Brady begin a battle in every sense of the word to gain the most votes before Election Day. We have trash talk at a debate, snake handling at a religious event, baby kissing during a tour and rifle shooting in the woods, all in order to gain the upper edge to control the state.

The set up of the film felt like it could go places. Two heavyweight comedians doing battle on one of the most corrupt circuits should have spelt comedy gold, but it never really takes us beyond a little chuckle. There are some great moments – the phone call to the religious family, the baby punching followed by dog punching, the recital of the Lord’s Prayer are all giggle worthy moments, but the comedy was significantly lacking.

The plot seemed to go down a route of self awareness with people being willing to ‘do the right thing’. It is as if the film decided to take itself too seriously by the end, instead of delivering on its promise of an outrageous comedy. It is at times repetitive and boring, which are not words you’d expect to be associated with a film pitting Ron Burgundy against Alan from The Hangover.

Disappointingly, Galifianakis reigned in his usual crazy approach and Ferrell’s character of Brady turned out to be flat and boring, someone we never care about or laugh along with. The direction has stripped these actors away from their usual outrageous personas and what we’re left with is a message about the affairs of American politics today. Seeing the two leads going head to head in bizarre and crazy situations would have created more laughs.

I left the cinema rather underwhelmed and fairly disappointed. The cast have all performed much better in other films and don’t live up to their potential. If you want to see Ferrell at his best rent Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Stepbrothers, or Old School, because you really won’t have missed out if you don’t watch this film.

★★

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