Political comedy is tough to get right. In The Loop, the big-screen spinoff from TV's The Thick of It, got it absolutely perfect. Idiocracy tried hard, but got it pretty wrong. The Campaign falls somewhere in the middle.
When long-term Democratic congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) accidentaly leaves a sexually-explicit message on the wrong answering machine, the billionaire Motch brothers (Lithgow and Aykroyd) plot to put a rival candidate in the Senate and gain control of their North Carolina district, which they plan to sell off to China (no, really). They choose naive Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), the effete director of the local tourism centre, and they back him as the Republican candidate.
There are a lot of funny moments in The Campaign, and Ferrell and Galifianakis are both on fine form. But the film suffers from the fact that no film can be as funny and ridiculous as real-life politics. I mean, just look at Mitt Romney, for heaven's sake. Of course, real-life politics has not yet gone as far as seeing candidates punching babies and dogs, or swearing quite as much as these guys do. And the satire is, at times, a little heavy handed.
Yes, we know that politicians are all selfish, greedy, power-hungry, immoral, corrupt and only in it for what they can get out of it. And we all know that the political parties are owned and run by evil billionaires such as the Ko... sorry, Motch ... brothers.
The Campaign does veer slightly into sentimentality towards the end, but for some decent laughs with a touch of timely satire, it's certainly worth your vote.
EXTRAS ★★ There's an extended cut of the film, which runs an extra 11 minutes. The bonus material consists of nine deleted scenes (15:44); a gag reel (3:31); and a short Libe-O-Rama feature (4:23), in which the actors give alternate lines in a few scenes.