Saturday, 1 September 2012


The Campaign [Review]

Opinion: B-

A mixbag of hit and miss jokes from Director Jay Roach, who envisions his cast team of comedy actors to turn the American political scene into funny business. Applying crude (and at times tasteless) humour without much regards for the election campaign business, Roach's film surprisingly touches upon specific key issues of concern to relay a certain perspective. With a primary decree to deliver jovial entertainment, the film gives the opportunity a miss and thus hinders it from being a greater film of political criticism.

When long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naive Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center. At first, Marty appears to be the unlikeliest possible choice but, with the help of his new benefactors' support, a cutthroat campaign manager and his family's political connections, he soon becomes a contender who gives the charismatic Cam plenty to worry about.

Pitting Will Ferrell against Zach Galifianakis definitely churns out hilarious results even when they are competing for polling results. These two brand of comedians may be different but is completely relevant as they are political rivals.

We see the incumbent Cam Brady serving his people with complacency when all affairs turn routine year after year. Strategic rampant campaigning and interactions with the people amidst speeches, smiles, and handshakes that subsequently simmers down to a whole lot of nothingness. Politicians are portrayed in this film as nothing but a shiny image that caters to the liking of the people.

Then comes along the new contender Marty Huggins.

He is a simple man who spends quality time and effort towards the upkeeping of a happy family. No conniving and hidden agendas around Huggins, a naive man who would have stayed so until he meets his opponent at the political election. We never do get to fully understand how extreme personalities depicted through Brady and Huggins get to run for elections, but the film never intends address it.

What follows is a series of sitocm-like scenarios that proves each politician's public awareness through various campaign activities, such as the debate and campaign advertisements. These situations do not merely serve as laugh-inducing exercises, but also trying to say something about the true face of politics behind the scenes.

Materialism and falsified facade seems to be what political campaigning is all about, with candidates practicing communication according to their campaign manager's instructions. What sounds inspiring and awe-strucking may not represent intellectual content bur rather theatrics. Campaigns after campaigns, candidates promise several and may deliver none.

The Campaign sells candidates' politics, crude humour (rather crude for a film about political elections), and certain blatant truth that the film fails to bank upon. Not that we expect a comedy to do so, but when potential is noticed and not realised it always declines an audience's overall expectation.

One may not expect much from this genre production but will likely crave for more. Especially after it awakens the political savviness from within.


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