(Comedy, R, 85 minutes)
I first became a Will Ferrell fan during his time on “Saturday Night Live” and continued to follow him as he made movies such as “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” I can’t get enough of his shameless, silly antics. He’s tried more serious roles, such as Harold Crick in “Stranger Than Fiction,” but comedy is where he rules.
“The Campaign” opens today, bringing us back to one of Ferrell’s most famous SNL roles — former President George W. Bush. His character in the film, Cam Brady, isn’t a carbon copy of Ferrell’s Bush parody but a combination of well-known politicians, namely Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Mitt Romney and John Edwards. This potpourri of personalities and reputations makes for more comedy. Although this won’t make the list as one of my favorite Ferrell movies, the intent of its timing is obvious and you can’t help but laugh at that.
Brady is a four-term Congressman from North Carolina’s district 14. Once again, he is running unopposed and preparing to file papers for his fifth term. His campaign manager, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), is by his side as Cam goes from fairgrounds to factories to high schools, delivering empty promises with a smile. The people love him, so he gets away with it.
Days before he will file papers unopposed, Cam finds himself in the midst of a sex scandal. While his office goes on a clumsy PR blitz, billionaire brothers Glenn and Wade Motch (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, respectively) see this as an opportunity to get Cam out of office while satisfying their own ulterior motives.
They see their chance in Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), a sweet but daffy man who has lived in Hammond his whole life. The pudgy, effeminate Pug-loving native is the city’s tour guide by day and husband and father at night. Too naive to see the Motch brothers are taking advantage of him, Marty heads to City Hall to file papers to, as he sees, help the city he loves.
But not if Cam has anything to do with it. The veteran Congressman has everything Mitch needs — prestige, loyal constituents, millions of dollars. However, when sleazy campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) steps in, Mitch transforms into a formidable opponent.
“The Candidate” is another collaboration with Ferrell and producer Adam McKay. Galifianakis also serves as one of the producers. With this said, you know what you are in for: humor that is over the top, immature, expletive-laced and downright silly.
And I love it. Say what you want, but Ferrell equals funny. Period.
The antics of the two candidates range from verbal jabs about Mitch’s mom to propaganda-laced television ads claiming Cam is a bad father to the men reducing themselves to fighting schoolchildren. Their behavior makes it onto national news shows such as those with Dennis Miller, Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan.
While 2011’s “Ides of March” showed political corruption and lies is no laughing matter, “The Candidate” turns that seriousness on its head and tickles it until it cries for mercy. The movie is 85 minutes, but at times felt longer. It’s funny throughout but lost some of its momentum as the situations got more and more ridiculous. However, just as politicians do all they can to win, Ferrell & Co. will do anything for a laugh. And they rarely lose.