As 2012 quickly turns into one of the most outrageous, unbelievable years in the entire history of American politics, now would be as good a time as any to have two of Hollywood's most well-known funny men make fun of the presidential election race. But anyone expecting a smart, intelligent comedy along the lines of Jon Stewart or BBC's The Thick Of It will be left sorely disappointed. The Campaign is more at home with politicians punching babies and home-made porn disguised as a rousing political message.
When billionaire industrialists Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow decide they want to sell the small town of Hammond, North Carolina to China, they finance Marty Huggins (a pointlessly effeminate Zack Galifianakis) and his run for local congressmen so they can get some new minimum wage laws passed. This greatly upsets long-standing congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell, basically doing Talladega Nights' Ricky Bobby again), who has run unopposed for almost a decade. So the stage is set for these two to go to war, with the help of their political aids Jason Sudekis (hopeful) and Dylan McDermott (evil), constantly trying to one-up the other in a filthy mud-slinging smear campaign.
Ferrell and Galifianakis are both fine in their roles, but it's nothing we haven't seen either of them do before. Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet The Parents) manages to bring some laughs to proceedings, but more often than not the film falls flat as the comedy is just too broad. Sex, alcohol, drugs and poop jokes are flung at the screen with alarming speed, but this isn't an American Pie movie, and it wouldn't have hurt the writers to aim a little higher. South Park covered this exact same ground with their "Turd Sandwich VS Giant Douche" episode, but managed in 22 minutes to get more smart jokes in than The Campaign does in 85.
Dumb comedies about politics just don't work, and while the presence of Galifianakis and Ferrell together on screen together is enough to get the laughs flowing, come year's end I can't imagine anyone voting The Campaign for this year's best comedy.