The Campaign plays the current election season for laughs. Candidates for Congress, Will Ferrell as Cam Brady and Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins vie for votes in a how-low-can-you-go campaign. Forget issues; by the time facial hairs on one provide mud slinging evidence of ties to Taliban for the other, you know the real butt of the humor: the ethics of winning at all cost.
A funny moment occurs when the powerful Motch brothers (Dan Ackroyd and John Lithgow) visit a factory in China, prospering because the pay is abysmal and human rights nonexistent. Outsourcing? Ever hear of insourcing? The Motches offer profitable opportunities to the Chinese once they can manipulate the campaign, but as the Chinese wisely decline, "American elections are so unpredictable;" the Motches win them over, "Here's what you need to know about American politics. If you have money, nothing is unpredictable."
While neither Brady nor Huggins resembles the real-life presidential contenders, the movie's politics were fodder for fun at the Peggy Siegal hosted party at Sons of Essex, a Lower East Side restaurant adorned with retro artifacts, where bartenders poured from red, white, and blue Svedka bottles and servers sliced steak and pork belly. Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell glad-handed Rachel Dratch, Bennett Miller, Jon Hamm, Karina Bartkevica, Ryan Fleck, Aleksa Palladino, Kristen Gore, and Russell Simmons who was anticipating the annual Art for Life Benefit at his East Hampton estate this weekend.
You had to notice the Sunshine Cinema's ramped up security post-Aurora Dark Knight shootings. Some of the movie's funniest bits involved firearms. Galifianakis was open about voting for Obama, but disappointed that the larger issues of gun control are not yet part of the dialogue.
When I suggested Will Ferrell might be a good candidate, he reviewed his character's lewd, libidinous, lascivious behavior, lacking entirely in couth. Yes, but he made me laugh and revealed where real politics ought to be held to more serious scrutiny. As directed by Jay Roach who so cleverly made Game Change a powerful glimpse of American campaign strategies, The Campaign comes with its own critique of negative ads as Huggins turned honest intones, "It's a mess."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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