In order to control their North Carolina district for capital gains, two CEO’s pit naive Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis) against long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) for office. Brady, who has run unopposed for many years, is annoyed to pull his career out of cruise control for the political battle to come. Huggins, an all around nice guy, loves his community and thinks the Motch brothers (which kept sounding like some people were pronouncing it ‘Marx’) are giving him the means to do so, employing underhanded campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), to ensure a victory.
Brady comes off as a not so smart, yet ferocious politician that is willing to go to whatever depths of hell in order to pull a win for his campaign. Unfortunately, his extremely competitive nature does him more harm than good on the heels of a sex scandal that opens his campaign. Ferrell plays this type of character to a T. I see no difference between Cam Brady, Ron Burgundy, Brennan Huff, or Ricky Bobby. They’re essentially all the same characters with a different focus. Luckily for Ferrell, I haven’t tired of the schtick just yet.
Huggins is a naive manager of the local Tourist Center who has allowed his long term aspirations for office to dwindle until the Motch brothers tap him for candidacy. Galifianakis plays the well meaning, eccentric Huggins well, with his bright-side mentality buoying his daily routines. While Brady’s humor comes from his impulsive and vulgar nature, Huggins’s are more from how he reacts to circumstances. The characters (and actors) play well off each other in that respect.
Motch brothers Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade (Dan Aykroyd) want to bring big industry stateside so they can reap the profits of no longer having to pay for shipping from China. Sadly, that would mean having to pay higher wages to workers…unless they can get regulations in place to circumvent the employment laws. Other than the fact that there would be no movie, it didn’t make sense that the brothers didn’t just approach Cam Brady for this to begin with. Brady would have jumped on it in a heartbeat, given his impulsive nature. Still, it would be odd to do political satire without some big business pulling all the strings on a candidate. Lithgow and Aykroyd aren’t anything special, not that it was required of them in their limited puppet master roles.
While The Campaign examines corruption, poor political sportsmanship and underhanded big business influence from a satirical perspective, it doesn’t fail to squeeze at least a chuckle from the audience when it wants to. For those of you champing at the bit for this year’s elections, The Campaign should whet your appetite for the main course in November.