Makes "Semi Pro" look like an Altman movie.
"The Campaign" Discussion
The Campaign has two sides. One, it's fucking hilarious. Ferrell and Galifianakis are both on fire here; they've got great chemistry together, and they do plenty well on their own. I'm not sure if they're intentionally channeling real-life political figures-- Ferrell plays somewhere in the Clinton/Edwards/W. Bush wheelhouse while Galifianakis seems to be playing a fey, polite, sweet composite of loonies like Bachmann, Cain, and Santorum-- but their performances work whether they're punching babies, spouting lies about Rainbow Land, or producing truly horrendous attack ads that range from father substitution to softcore cuckold porn.
On top of that, the supporting cast kills (though the film wastes John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd). Jason Sudeikis is good, but Dylan McDermott might be the movie's secret weapon. He's flat-out incredible, and in ways I certainly didn't expect him to be.
The other side of the film is its satirical bent, and yes, this is a comedy, but satire remains a serious business. The problem with The Campaign is that as far as it's willing to push its punchlines, it can't go the distance with its satire; it's too soft and too sympathetic, turning into a Frank Capra movie in the last 15 minutes. I look back at a movie like In the Loop-- and yes, it's unfair to compare anything to Iannucci, but it's the best recent comparison I can muster-- and I see nothing but scathing commentary. The Campaign clearly dislikes stupidity in candidates, the absence of civil discourse in political debate, easily fooled voter bases, and everything related to super PACs, but it ends with such a simplistic, heartwarming climax that it dilutes its own outrage. It feels like impotent ranting as opposed to sharp, well-guided anger.
I'd love to live in a world where people like the Motch brothers can be put before a Congressional hearing and get spanked on a national stage without red tape and teams of evil lawyers running interference, but that's just not reality. That's my big problem here. It feels like blatant, petulant wish fulfillment.
It's still fucking hilarious, but I wanted so much more out of its central farce.
Ferrells unhinged scene near the end was pretty great too. Punching the dog was a bit much, but the baby punching scene was awesome even if most of it was in the commercials. So was the phone message to McBrair.
And as much as they wasted Akroyd and Lithgow it was worth it for "I tried to kill you in your sleep...3 times"
Just caught a matinee, and I think agracru nailed most of the central problems. The opening bits where it's just the two leads being idiots is brilliant, and is a great send up of shallow, patronizing political practices. About halfway to a third thru though the movie tries to get sentimental and the jokes just grind to a halt. There's one or two solid payoffs (the door gag, the playground scar, the "hunting accident"), but it's like the movie just slams on the brakes after the drunk driving bit. If they were gonna do such a softball, mushy satire I wish they'd just axed the evil corporate bigwig aspect entirely and kept the focus squarely on the increasingly insane campaign.
Also, shame on them for ruining one of the the better gags in the movie. The maid reveal fucking killed, and then not only did they have to cheapen it with a stupid explanation, they turned a clever twist on a tired routine right back into the same cliched "black people be all like this" schtick.