Film review: The Campaign (2012)

I watched this film last evening and it was good fun. It stars Will Ferrell as the incumbent congressman of a North Carolina district who is expecting to run unopposed until a misstep by him suggests weakness and prompts two wealthy brothers (thinly disguised versions of the real life Koch brothers) to back someone who will be beholden to them and allow them to transfer their sweatshops in China back to the US so that they can save shipping costs and thus increase their profits.

Will Farrell is the incumbent congressman and plays the character he often plays, that of a lecherous doofus, while Zach Galifianakis plays the naïf whom the wealthy brothers pick as their man. The film deals with the final eight weeks of the campaign.

I was not expecting much more than a light, goofy comedy, but it made some surprisingly sharp critiques of current US politics, albeit in a scattershot fashion: politicians who pander to the lowest of their constituents by spouting meaningless slogans of “America! Freedom! Jesus!” and of their constituents who respond enthusiastically to this pap; the careful shaping of a candidate’s image by political operatives who don’t care which side they are on; of the religious fakery required of candidates; the media’s obsession with the trivial; of the ridiculous political ads that are put out; and of the control that rich people, who have absolutely no concern for ordinary Americans, have over candidates and the elections.

Here’s the trailer.


  1. unbound says

    I saw this in theaters last summer, and I agree with your review. I was also only expecting it to be a fair comedy, but it ended up being so very biting that I finally understood why the conservative media (e.g. Wall Street Journal) held it in such disregard (due largely, I think, to the parallel with the Koch brothers that you mentioned). Definitely worth the rental.

  2. cafink says

    The “baby-punching” scene was shot at the high school were my girlfriend teaches. I wouldn’t have seen the movie if not for the novelty of seeing her place of work in the movies, but I’m glad I did. It was funny and had some surprisingly sharp humor.

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