I’m not a huge fan of R-rated comedies or R-rated movies in general. Mostly because I’m a bit sensitive to violence and vulgarity. I don’t mind that others enjoy it, it just makes it harder for me to enjoy those movies. There are plenty of exceptions. I thought Tropic Thunder was hysterical! But after arriving at the theater too late to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green and not really up for the intensity of The Bourne Legacy, I decided to check out The Campaign.
While there were some laughs in the trailer and Zach Galifinackis seemed endearing, I had mediorce expectations for this movie. And that turned out to be pretty accurate. There are some laughs and they are peppered throughout the story, some bigger than others. But there are also some missed opportunities for laughs, like the baby punch (which is quite funny). There are a series of clips afterwards with all the news shows discussing the scandal and they fall flat. So much untapped fodder there.
Zach Galifianakis is indeed endearing. From the very first glimpse he is likable and worth rooting for through the whole movie. Will Ferrell is back to his typical role of obnoxious man-child. And I haven’t found him funny in that role since Anchorman. There are plenty of strong actors in the cast, like Dylan McDermott and Jason Sudeikis, but they too seemed to fall short of their full potential.
But the real issue is the script. There seem to be a couple of different issues. First, the story relies on vulgar and outrageous to be funny. Um, no. Vulgar and outrageous can be funny; take the afforementioned Tropic Thunder. But it doesn’t guarantee it will be funny and it’s very hit or miss here. The second issue is the improvisation. I’ve seen Will Ferrelll and other actors ad lib and riff and be really hysterical. But that’s a very particular note to hit and even with a good improvisational actor you still need a good script. It seems the writers just thought, “Eh, it’s Will Ferrell. He’ll say something funny here.” Yea, there’s a lot of moments like that.
And honestly, there were a few moments when I was actually sad because, as ridiculous and stupid as it was, I couldn’t help but think this is pretty close to how our political system actually works. Sigh.
Bottom Line: Not worth full admission. Rent it later for a laugh or wait for it to air on cable.