Even if Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Galifikanis are not your regular cup of tea, think of their respective roles in the memorable Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby (2006) and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010). People will be talking about this film, so don’t miss it.
The Campaign is a deliciously venomous cinematic time bomb thrown directly at our present political system here in the United States. It is a wondrous, scathing indictment of the election process, and it could not come at a better time.
Think about that idiot in Missouri running for the Senate and his demented views on rape and the ability of all females to avoid conception. He and his cohorts, who include V.P. candidate Ryan and Gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, want to lead our country back into the golden years of the 14th century.
Let me warn you in advance that the raucous humor of this film is often as vile as it is profane. Anyone who is easily offended should simply resist all temptation and steer clear. Yet this is a monstrously funny movie that embraces malevolent deviancy without any hint of embarrassment, much less shame.
Will Ferrell plays a six-term Democratic North Carolina Congressman running for re-election. His wife, played in beautiful acerbic fashion by Katherine LaNasa, appears to be doing a spot-on impression of Mrs. Newt Gingrich. Let’s just say that Mr. Ferrell’s marriage is a complete scam done solely to impress the voters, and their spousal exchanges are continually dipped in acid.
Mr. Ferrell bases his campaign on the theme, “America, Jesus and Freedom”, something that is not too far afield from how politicians are running in many areas of the country today. However, he experiences a bit of bad luck when he calls one of his mistresses at home, leaving an hysterically wretched message for her that accidentally plays for her family on her answering machine while they are having dinner. With her husband loudly embracing the Lord before beginning their meal with two young children, Ferrell proceeds to recount in bawdy detail their previous sexual exploits, and it results in one of the most outrageously hysterical scenes you are likely to see on the screen this year.
His campaign in tatters, the public scandal that results leads the Motch brothers, played to the hilt by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, to use their billions on another candidate, a neophyte Republican played by Zach Galifikanis. Aykroyd and Lithgow are doing a thinly veiled impression of today’s Koch brothers, who are using their fortune to influence the Republican political process with precious little dignity.
Galifikanis is a likeable, functional idiot who enters the campaign ready and willing to do the Motch brothers’ bidding. As he addresses the press for the first time, he stares ahead silently and then says, “My granddaddy always told me two things when addressing the public. Never insult the Jews, and then tell a funny story.” Starting to get a feel for where this film is going?
While the resulting campaign with his Democratic opponent, Mr. Ferrell, challenges each man to leave no sordid political tool unused, it occasionally becomes a bit thin as it fails to hit on all cylinders. But never for long, as when Mr. Galifikanis rallies the public to be truthful at all times, resulting in this exchange between a husband and wife who support him:
Husband: “I must be honest, darling, as I have been having an affair with the waitress at the Red Lobster.”
Wife:“Don’t worry, dear, so have I.”
The fact is that The Campaign wraps itself in a pissy sordidness that never loses a bit of its magic. More importantly, it never loses focus on ridiculing how big money talks in this country, and you can only hope that the Supreme Court justices who signed the abhorrent 5-4 Citizens United decision will take the time to see it.
In the end, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the wonderful song by Buffy St. Marie from the old film, Billy Jack (1971), “Do it in the name of heaven, you can justify it in the end.” That pretty much describes politics in America today as well as this slam-bang satire. Sit down in the theater and discover why most of the audience, including you, will be continually laughing out loud.