Will Ferrell is a funny dude. One of the funniest making movies today. He might not always choose the greatest movies or strongest comedies to be a part of, but even amongst something pretty ordinary, like Semi-Pro, or Blades of Glory, he’s always funny in them. Zach Galifianakis is a funny dude, but he seems to have been the victim of a pretty short audience attention span. It’s only five years since he broke big in The Hangover, and his moment of mainstream popularity seems to have quickly, and unfairly, already passed.
Two funny dudes, yet when they were put together, with a really promising premise and trailers that made me laugh, it seems like no one took much notice, including me. Which is a shame, because The Campaign is funny. Really, really funny.
Will Ferrell is Cam Brady, a five time US Congressman who wins every election because he always runs unopposed. He’s clueless, sleazy, easily manipulated and selfish. But, he tows the corporate line, so he always gets the financial backing of Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow as the Motch Brothers. That is, until his latest scandal crosses the line, and the brothers Motch decide they need a new puppet in office.
As Marty Huggins, Zach Galifianakis is that new puppet. Effeminate, naïve and totally dedicated to his wife, kids and pug dogs, Huggins is given the ruthlessness he needs for politics by his Motch provided campaign manager, the cold as ice Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). From here, The Campaign follows a pretty predictable path. Cam Brady actually has a heart of gold, Marty Huggins isn’t so pure and incorruptible. It’s got a bit of a Trading Places vibe to it.
One of the downsides of being super successful in comedy is that whatever makes you a hit and popular initially, inevitably becomes seen as schtick, old and one note after a little while. Will Ferrell is really funny as a dumb, cocky, completely self-unaware, offensive asshole. He’s proven it in Talladega Nights, and according to almost everyone in the world but me, Anchorman (I’ve watched it twice and still have no idea what everyone else sees in it).
Zach Galifianakis has perfected a different kind of hilarious dumb guy character. Even in the increasingly terrible Hangover sequels, he was still super funny, despite the lazy movies around him.
But these sorts of comedic performances seem to always lead to an eventual backlash. The Campaign is a move I remember coming out, but I don’t remember a single person telling me they’d seen it. It’s almost like everyone agreed we’d all seen Ferrell and Galifianakis do this kind of thing before and no on needed to see it again.
Admittedly, that’s exactly the attitude that made me not bother to see it for two years. But now I have, and it’s one of the funniest big, broad, dumb comedies made in recent memory. It made me laugh out loud way more than most comedies, and even if it is schtick, I could watch Ferrell and Galifianakis do their thing forever. They’re just elementally funny. And so is The Campaign