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The Campaign (2012)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/30/2012

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/28/2012

In my recent review for Holliston, I wrote about how people in Hollywood can be typecast and how this can effect a career. When an actor is typecast, they are seen as only being able to play one kind of character. However, there is a difference between being typecast and finding your niche. Will Ferrell has certainly found his niche playing egotistical blowhard characters. Beginning with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy in 2004, Ferrell has played a string of characters in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, and Step Brothers who are all different, but all share the traits of being idiots who don't realize that they are idiots. After moving away from this kind of character for a few years, Ferrell now returns with The Campaign, a movie which makes his schtick more topical than ever.

Ferrell stars in The Campaign as Cam Brady, a senator from a rural district in North Carolina. Cam has served four terms, as he's always run unopposed. Cam sees himself as being a man of the people, although he's often more worried about his hair and he's married to a gold-digger named Rose (Katherine LaNasa). The Motch Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) decide that they want to bring their factories from China to America in order to cut shipping costs and realize that they'll need a politician in their pocket in order to do so. Thus, they pluck Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) from obscurity and make him a candidate for senate. Marty is a pudgy, effeminate man who serves as a tour guide in the small town of Hammond. Heís married to Mitzi (Sarah Baker) and they have two boys. Marty sees this as an opportunity to help others, so heís shocked when his campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), orders a full makeup and steers Marty towards running a dirty campaign. As the election day nears, the campaign becomes more heated -- the TV ads get more personal and the debates turn violent. But, do all of these antics reflect who Cam and Marty really are as people.

Will Ferrell gets top billing in The Campaign and the familiarity of his character will draw you into the film (more on that in a moment), but itís Zach Galifianakis who steals the show. While heís been around for years (try going back and watching Tru Calling now), since his breakout role in The Hangover, Galifianakis has been appearing in many high profile movies, often playing quirky characters. He takes the role of Marty Huggins and makes it his own. I think weíve all met that man who is married to a woman, but comes across as homosexual and Zach nails that perfectly with his portrayal of Marty as someone who loves sweaters, fanny packs, and his little dogs. Marty is earnest, but heís not incredibly bright and some of his faux pas lead to the biggest laughs in the movie. The thing about this performance is that Galifanakis really loses himself in this role and youíll never think, ďOh, thatís just that guy from The Hangover doing his thing.Ē

But, thatís not to say that Will Ferrell isnít good as well, itís just that, again, weíve seen him play a character like this before. Of all of Ferrellís movies, The Campaign is most reminiscent of Talladega Nights, and not just because both take place in North Carolina. Cam Brady is very similar to Ricky Bobby in the sense that both have become so accustomed to winning that they canít fathom someone challenging them or something going wrong in their perfect lives. Both are married to phony women who threaten to leave them the moment that something goes wrong. Another similarity is that both movies feature classic dinner table scenes in which bizarre children steal focus.

The major difference with The Campaign is whatís going on behind the camera. Most of Ferrellís recent comedies were co-written and directed by Adam McKay. However, McKay serves as producer this time and Austin Powers vet Jay Roach is brought in to direct. The writing duties were handled by Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy, both of whom have worked on Eastbound & Down. Perhaps its this change which makes The Campaign feel different...and not in a good way. The movie gets off to a great start and the first half offers some genuine laughs and memorable moments. However, as the campaign escalates, the fun nature of the movie begins to dwindle. At the outset, the movieís goal is clear -- it wants to lampoon modern politics and as itís an election year, the timing couldnít be more perfect. But, as the muck-raking gets more ruthless, the movie becomes more unbelievable and it begins to lose focus. The movie makes its biggest mistake when it has Marty become a serious character. Galifianakis is hilarious when heís playing Marty as a goofball whoís out of his element, but when he goes on the offensive, the movie loses its edge.

The prospect of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis starring in a political comedy is certainly a promising one. And while the movie has some standout comedic moments, the movie eventually runs out of gas. Itís better than most comedies which Iíve seen lately, but itís not as good as some of Ferrellís previous efforts. Galifianakis shows once again how versatile he is and his performance keeps the movie from feeling stale, but it sill falls short and I wasnít crazy about the way it portrayed my home state.

The Campaign makes some interesting points about funeral attire on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. Turning away from the psychedelic look of the Austin Powers films, Roach has shot the film in a very natural style and the colors look good, most notably the constant reds and blues. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good, as evidenced in close ups and the depth is nice, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a comedy, most scenes contain competent, but not noteworthy audio effects. But, a few crowd scenes and one car chase provide nicely done surround sound and stereo effects, with a few highlighting individual sounds in the rear channels. The Blu-ray Disc contains both the Theatrical Version of the film (85 minutes) and the Extended Cut (96 minutes).

The Campaign Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. The Disc offers nine DELETED SCENES which run about 16 minutes. Some of these are longer or alternate versions of scenes from the film and some are brand new. There is an alternate endings of sorts which extends the finale and takes it in a weird direction. There are some funny moments here, and a few which should have stayed in the movie. "Line-O-Rama" (4 minutes) is a series of alternate takes which show the actors trying out various jokes in the same scenes. A number of these lines had me laughing out loud. The 4-minute GAG REEL shows the actors goofing around on-set and blowing their lines. It also shows that the original title for the film was "Dogfight".

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2012.