My mom's final verdict was that it had funny moments, but went too far on the lewd jokes. She was particularly uncomfortable about the fact that many of those jokes involved young actors and that there were several kids (fourteen-ish) in the theater. Honestly, I have to agree with her. Maybe we're both prudes, but look: Bestiality jokes are a hard sell at the best of times. Bestiality jokes involving someone who looks twelve? It doesn't even matter that it's supposed to be an uncomfortable comment. It just doesn't work. I think the defining moment of the sex jokes is when one of the characters says, "Gross." This is a movie full of people saying and doing gross things, and one of those people in-character thinks it goes too far. Maybe that should've been a sign.
Now for the good! This is a terrific comedic cast. Ferrell is possibly the most restrained he's been in ages and Galifianakis effortlessly captures Huggins' makeover from effete weirdo to polished politician. Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow aren't given much to do, but both of them do sly and dry perfectly. Given equally little to do are all of the female characters. That doesn't mean the women (none of whom I'm familiar with) don't do a great job. Katherine LaNasa, as Rose Brady, is the thin, blonde political wife. Sarah Baker as Mitzi Huggins is sweet and loves her husband, but she's going to do what's best for her children even if it hurts him. Karen Maruyama kills as Mrs. Yao, the housekeeper who plays to her employer's racist longing for an extra $50 a month. (When she takes her skills on to bigger and better things you can't help but cheer for her. I'd watch an entire movie of this woman preying on the prejudices of old rich dudes.)
|Dylan McDermott, bringing the homoeroticism|
The Campaign shows flashes of an interesting storyline, timely satire, and empathetic characters. But it never fails to shove its better qualities off a cliff in order to make a joke a thirteen-year-old boy would find puerile. The people involved with this film know how to do dumb humor cleverly. In The Campaign they just don't. I've seen worse comedies, but sometimes it's harder to watch what really could have been a good movie.
Brief PSA: Huggins is portrayed as crossing over into being truly ruthless when he calls the cops on a drunk-driving Brady. Now, there's a little more to it than that, but let's be clear: If you know a friend is driving drunk, call the cops on 'em. Yes, it will cost your friend thousands of dollars. But you know what? A close friend's older brother is in a coma right now and expected to stay in that coma for the foreseeable future. He has two small children. But he made the incredibly stupid decision to drink and drive and he plowed into a semi. A friend who hates you because you cost them money is a hell of a lot better than a friend who is comatose, dead, or who killed someone else who happened to be on the road at the wrong time. And, y'know, don't drive drunk yourself.