September 2, 2012

My reviews of The Campaign. Watching this comedy made me so glad I don’t vote. 

Electioneering and other dark arts in ‘The Campaign’

 Posted on 08/23/2012 9:40 AM  | Updated 08/23/2012 10:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines – You’ve heard that joke about two campaign recruiters who go into a bar to canvass for votes and end up in a fist fight?

Well, this movie has its own version of that old nugget.

Two Congressional candidates go into the crowd, post-speech. They mug for the cameras, shake hands left and right, smile like there’s no tomorrow. Both of them want to kiss a baby to sweeten the image-puffing deal.

Problem: there’s only one baby in THIS crowd.

So, who gets to kiss the little darling? Not the fastest one, certainly. In The Campaign, it’s the guy who keeps his fists to himself.

As tasteless as that scene was, it’s outrageous and awful how hilarious it actually played out. Hunter S. Thompson, in his seminal Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail, might as well have penned this sweet, sweet rated R-13 gem.

Not only does it lampoon the American electioneering process and its often unethical methodology; it’s also a ribald, comedic vehicle for two great comedians: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, under the command of director Jay Roach (who also helmed the Austin Powers series, with executive producer credits on Bruno and Borat).

We open with long-term Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) on the campaign trail leading up to his 5th term as the representative for North Carolina’s 14th District. He’s a political dynasty of one as, throughout his first 4 terms, he ran and won unopposed.

Talk about a bully, Cam Brady represents just about everything that’s gone awry with today’s politicos, never mind the American Congress.



REVIEW | Ferrell, Galifianakis duke it out as mad politicos in ‘The Campaign’

By Karl R. De Mesa, InterAksyon.com · Tuesday, August 28, 2012 · 3:38 pm

One of the pivotal and most hilarious scenes in “The Campaign” involves snakes.

As e-electionist North Carolina Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) praises Jesus and sings hallelujahs with a local evangelical church that prefers to use serpents during Holy Mass, he gets bitten by a rattler. Said snake just happens to have a particularly nasty, fast-acting venom.

Spitting curses like a “South Park” kid, Brady stuns the congregation who accuse him of being a sinner for being unable to tame the snake. To which Brady, seeing his poll numbers plummet before his eyes, sucks it up and declares he’s okay, that “It’s a miracle! I’m not hurt!” as he shoos away his campaign manager.

The sheer absurdity of the metaphoric event is not only deliciously hilarious, it’s also funny because of how it’s entirely plausible. When we later see Brady with his bitten arm the size of an elephant’s trunk, that segue adds a stiff jab to the already belly-aching punch line.

Welcome to “The Campaign”, a gem directed by Jay Roach of “Austin Powers” fame with excellent comedians, where politics, like Presidential candidate Ross Perot said in 1988 “has no rules”, unlike war or mud wrestling.

Long-term Congressman Cam Brady is running unopposed for his fifth term when he commits a major public faux pas a few months before the election: he leaves a lascivious message on the answering machine of a local family, thinking he was talking to his mistress.

Pissed that Brady’s antics have endangered profitability and corporate interests in the district, The Motch brothers (Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow), a pair of unscrupulous power brokers, decide it’s time to exercise their options.

Especially since they’re on the threshold of a crucial deal that’s dependent on bending a few laws, they can’t afford to risk it all on a wild card. To protect their business plans (which unusually enough actually involves China and sweatshops), The Motches put up a rival candidate to retain their lobbying influence.

Their puppet candidate is local tour operator Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis). He’s a dumpy, soft-spoken, naïve, cardigan-donning, fanny-pack-wearing oddball. Although he’s the son of retired political operator Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), he not only has zero political know-how, he’s also the runt of the family.



Movie review: Politics is filthy and funny in ‘The Campaign’

BY KARL R. DE MESA August 29, 2012 1:34pm
If we go by all the fear, loathing, and backstabbing in “The Campaign,” then American Congressional pre-electoral proceedings aren’t so far removed from ours.
Consider, Cam Brady’s (Will Ferrell) catchphrase: “America. Jesus. Freedom.” It’s vague, non-threatening, and sticks to your head like glue, with just enough black areas that your mind can color in with its own agenda. It’s also meaningless. Thing is, it’s unassailably effective, having catapulted Brady into four terms to a Congressional seat of North Carolina. And it looks like a fifth term in office is in the bag, as he runs his latest campaign unopposed.
Director Jay Roach (who gave us the “Austin Powers” and the “Meet the Parents” movies), had a specific bone to pick with the political catchphrase. He’s opined in the movie’s production notes that “People are always reaching for catchy, meme ideas to carry the essence of who they are; loaded but largely meaningless phrases for the short attention span public, that we all seem to fall for, time and again.”
Brady himself is the pitch perfect illustration of the worst kind of politician. He uses his political powers to further his own desires (we catch him with his mistress in their debut screw inside a portalet), he regularly uses lies and misdirection as a reflex to cover his lack of insight, and, worst of all, he’s so lazy he doesn’t even bother to cover up his mistakes.
Which leads Brady to the biggest mistake of his career: he leaves a hugely indecent and lewd message on a local family’s answering machine. To his defense, he did think it was his mistress’s phone. Predictably, the press have a field day with his recorded voice mail. But Brady commits a greater sin in thinking that it’ll just be business as usual with a routine public apology and cover-up.
While it hasn’t been the first time Brady’s been caught with his pants down, the powers that lean on every politician in office—much less a Congressman of an American district—have now taken notice of his tabloid worthy faux pas and judged him too much of a loose cannon to serve their interests.
Wade and Glenn Motch have a very big stake in that North Carolina district. They’re on the verge of selling acres of property to house their sweatshop factories, manned by Chinese immigrant laborers. Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow ably play the force behind the throne. Their Motch Brothers are interested in one thing only: profit, obscene amounts of it. They will back anybody with their considerable influence and resources who’s willing to further their ends.
“They’re equal opportunity corruptors,” says Lithgow. “If one party doesn’t work they revert to the other, which is another of the film’s satiric points: ‘A plague on both your houses,’ a blanket condemnation at how money is really influencing everything.”
To attain their ends the Brothers hoist up Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), a peculiar, unattractive, and mustachioed tour operator from the suburban town of Hammond. All of a sudden, there are two Southerners vying for a seat in Congress. And what a fight it is.
“[The Motches] think they can manipulate [Huggins],” says Aykroyd. “The Motches are people who believe they can arrange elections to be won or lost based upon their support and dirty tricks. They recruit candidates who may want to do good things but who are also ambitious and vulnerable.”

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