By Forrest Hartman
A political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis anchors this week’s crop of home video releases.
3 stars (out of four)
Rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and digital download
As we move closer to one of the most contentious presidential elections in memory, the country is ready to let off some steam and laugh. “The Campaign” not only provides that opportunity, it produces its chuckles while delivering a well-deserved skewering of the American political process.
The film centers on Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), a long-term politician who has grown accustomed to running unopposed. Just as Cam is going to claim his fifth consecutive term, he gets caught in a sex scandal. Sensing Cam’s weakness, two powerful businessmen (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) decide to back a Republican candidate in hopes of stealing the election. Because they want someone they can manipulate, they settle on Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the naïve-but-good-hearted son of a business associate.
Faced with running his first campaign in more than a decade, Cam decides to play dirty and ruin Marty’s pristine reputation. At first, Cam’s heartless tactics shock Marty, but it doesn’t take long for him to get just as nasty. From that point forward, “The Campaign” propels us through an ugly – yet consistently funny – political dogfight.
Perhaps the best thing about the movie is that its jokes are steeped in reality. Although overplayed for the sake of parody, many of the political stunts that Cam and Marty pull seem painfully familiar. The film also has subplots commenting on everything from corporate involvement in the political process to the corrupting influence of absolute power.
Ferrell and Galifianakis do a fine job with their characters, exaggerating them for comic effect yet instilling them with recognizable political traits. The film also has a fine supporting cast, including not only Lithgow and Akyroyd but Bryan Cox, Dylan McDermott and Jason Sudeikis.
Screenwriters Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell provided director Jay Roach (“Dinner for Schmucks,” “Meet the Parents”) with a bunch of solid gags, and he makes the most of them, spacing the jokes just far enough apart to keep audiences laughing through the movie’s entire 85-minute run.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include a collection of deleted scenes.