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IN SHORT: In which a seasoned politico finds competition from a swishy nobody-man. [Rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity. 85 minutes]
Let us get right to the point: fourteen year old kids, if this generation is anything like the two or three before 'em back to my time, take pride in getting into 'R' rated movies that they shouldn't be watching. The humor in The Campaign, written for ten year olds, might make all the work of getting past the usher worth it for those fourteen year olds. For adults? A totally disposable dateflick.
Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has served the 14th Congressional District of North Carolina for five terms. He wears an impressive suit and his $900 hair cut is perfect at all times. His blonde, politically savvy "wife" Rose (Katherine LaNasa) is also perfect. The congressman's campaign is built on three stanchions: "America. Jesus and Freedom." If he played his cards right, the man is on track to some day, maybe, becoming North Carolina's first Sarah Palin but for now, Cam Brady is following a Bill Clinton track, driven by an ever increasing influx of political power that has found a home just south of his navel.
Power, so the saying goes, fills a vacuum and Cam has one good ol' boy head full of vacuum held in place by that perfect hair. If his brain hadn't been so squashed by all that compressed power, Cam might not have left a sexually explicit message on the telephone answering machine of a married constituent, during dinner time grace. That recording becomes cannon fodder for every teevee gum smacker who ever wanted to pick up a quick couple of hundred buck by playing themselves in a political power movie. (The Morning Joe crew are especially prominent. Rush Limbaugh took a pass). The One Per centers that run that portion of the world -- those would be the Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) enjoy brandy and cigars while they manipulate the lives of peons like you and me and make zillions in the process -- decide that it is time for Cam to say adios. They run through their very small list of their own good ol' boys and come across fellow one per center Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), whose son Marty (Zach Galifinakias) is a real go-getter who runs a tourist office.
On paper, Marty is perfect. He has a loving wife, Mitzi (Sarah Baker), two sons and two dogs. That the dogs are Chinese Pugs is the first thing that the Motch boys and their personal best campaign fuhrer, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) fix. Wattley also changes out Marty's furniture, clothing and does his darnedest to turn a swishy, foppish man into a "congressional candidate of standing" (meaning good posture, and less vocal swish)
Cam Brady's campaign manager, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), drowning under the work of saving his boss' butt following every mis-step begins to lose it. That the opponent's dogs are Chinese pugs becomes a major talking point in the campaign -- where we see that those Motch boys have their hands in both campaigns. In fact it seems that the Motch Brothers have two possible China deals up their sleeves, actually but we'll invoke our "don't spill the Third Act" rule a little early because The Campaign is not exactly deep with humor. At best . . . The Campaign is like what was once a New York staple. Dinner out at a Chinese restaurant. The food was always good and an hour later you wouldn't remember any of it. Thus, our fill of The Campaign
Now there have been a lot of films this summer that have made me want to talk about Chinese Food. The pinhead sized PC part is mumbling that someone is going to consider the line racist. It is about food -- what was, for anyone who raised a family in the 50s and most of the 60s -- the first real "fast" food. And good Chinese is still cheaper than taking the family to any fast food burger chain so we're gonna stick by it and move on.
The Campaign is, at 85 minutes, a "fast" movie. You shouldn't bring little children to it because the language and sexual innuendo (whether seen or heard) is way too rough for tender ears or eyes. While we had an enjoyable time watching the thing, and the audience we sat with were laughing as much as we, it is now 24 hours later as this review is being written and I can barely remember a thing.
So I'll quote one line of reaction I sent to the publicist, which pretty much locks in on the sophistication of the humor in this film: <quote> "How one doesn't call the other a doodie-head, heck if I know . . .: <close quote>
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Campaign, he would have paid . . .
The ending is truly stupid but you'll be in and out so fast there'll be more than enough time to grab some Chinese . . .
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