What we find funniest is often what we recognize as true. “The Campaign” — opening months before our next presidential election — has plenty of truth to it, but can those realities be funny when they are clear and present dangers? In this fictional senatorial campaign — where confident, womanizing incumbent Cam Brady (Ferrell) comes up against an innocent puppet of the evil Motch Corporation, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) — there are references to all-powerful super PACs, religion wielded as a weapon to stir the masses and corporations buying votes. If it’s all true, what can be funny about it?
Perhaps the reason why these realities feel so heavy in the film is because the humor fails to serve as enough of a distraction. With two of the biggest names in comedy teaming up, it seems like the filmmakers didn’t feel the need to write a script. Instead, they rely on the improvisational skills of the leads to get them through — but the jokes only land 60 percent of the time. (One of our favorite barbs being: “You’re such a turd that if you sat in sand, cats would try to cover you up.”)
There’s also a weak, paint-by-numbers plot resolution, which makes the whole thing feel a bit too easy.
While we’re strong supporters of a Ferrell/Galifianakis ticket in the future, this year it doesn’t get our vote.
If you go
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis