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If only THE CAMPAIGN would have been 20 minutes long…

Had the new political comedy with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis been condensed into short form, putting all of its effort into being a quick-hitting, sharp parody of the current state of American politics, it could have been something special. In fact, it feels like that’s how it was originally conceived, using the comedic abilities of Ferrell and Galifianakis to satirize outrageous political ads, a lack of campaign finance reform and downright angry rhetoric between the opposing sides of an unintelligent electorate. What’s funny is funny because it’s not all that hyperbolic, even though it seems like it should be. It’s much closer to the truth than we’d like to admit, and THE CAMPAIGN is at its best when it’s raising a mirror on what our democracy has turned into, moving away from representing the people and more towards a reality show filled with ridiculous characters with money driving the system.

But along the way, someone must have gotten the bright idea that it’d be better to stretch such a concept into a feature film length… only all that did was create a crippling problem for a film like THE CAMPAIGN, where there’s just not enough quality material to fill around 80 minutes. What could have been biting commentary and smart comedy winds up running out of gas over the extended running time and then loses traction with its message when it has to factor in a paper thin plot needed to create some sort of narrative.

The film, from Jay Roach, who directed the more serious and focused GAME CHANGE, follows the lead-up to election day for the 14th Congressional District of North Carolina, which spans the small town of Hammond. Their greatest claim to fame is that actress Rosie Perez once got lost there, but now that their five-term Congressman, Cam Brady (Ferrell), has gotten himself into a bit of a sexually explicit scandal, they’re on the map once again for a heavily contested race that could mean the difference in who gains majority in the House. Enter Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), the Director of Tourism for Hammond and not exactly the brightest crayon in the box. Huggins is chosen as the front man for the billionare Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, channeling their most heartless and greedy rendition of the real-life Koch brothers), who seek to increase their profits by bringing the sweatshop conditions they benefit from in China to the States. They’ll need a friend in office to take on that cause, and Huggins is the choice candidate.


THE CAMPAIGN is firing on all cylinders when it deals directly with elements of the campaign – who’s more religious, who’s a Communist/Taliban member, who’s more American, etc. It’s sad yet incredible to know some of what’s moving the poll numbers in the film would easily do the same in real life. With Ferrell and Galifianakis in these competing moments, THE CAMPAIGN is really doing something right, and when you factor in Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott as their campaign managers, it takes the animosity of the race up a notch.

But then the picture starts worrying about how the campaign is affecting each of the candidate’s families, and the TV spots start to get too far over the top, and there’s a bit of a TRADING PLACES-type scenario regarding which candidate the Motches are controlling, and THE CAMPAIGN becomes bloated with bullshit what it’s trying to do and loses its way… almost like a real politician.

There are some genuine laughs to be had during THE CAMPAIGN, and, for long stretches, it’s very funny… but the misses rack up more than the hits as a result of trying to stretch the premise far beyond its breaking point. THE CAMPAIGN had the potential to be an all-time great short, particularly if it stuck to the web right in the middle of this year’s election season. It would have shown the political process for the farce it’s become, and would have really forced people to take notice of what it was saying. As it stands now, it’s just another average comedy that has its moments but more or less overstays its welcome.


-Billy Donnelly

"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"

Follow me on Twitter.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 10, 2012, 10:26 p.m. CST


    by PJ

    this movie will be probably rock

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 10:27 p.m. CST

    yeah it does look bad

    by Rupee88

    at least the previews don't fill me with any confidence.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 10:29 p.m. CST

    The good...

    by PJ

    ...will outweigh the bad. The Kidd is a fairly miserable human being (but he does work hard)

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 10:35 p.m. CST

    Saw it last night...

    by ShogunMaster

    It's just like every other Will Feral (spelling intentional) comedy. They are ok while watching them and then completely forgettable. It's one of those movies that you recall the title years on in the future and think 'did I ever see that one?' It's got a few jokes, a few laughs, it's point is forgettable, and you move on with your life.

  • ...he is running thinner on classic moments these days, but Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, and Andy Samberg pale in comparison with Ferrell's creativity, and consistency output. He's even fared better than the greatest cinematic comedians outside of SNL. Jim Carrey should take note, it's been awhile since he seemed interested in making people laugh with his films. They can't all be zingers, but Ferrell has more than his share.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 10:39 p.m. CST output...

    by ThulsaBoom

    ...damn Mickey's!!

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Checked it out today for the baby punch scene...

    by nephilim138

    and it delivered..brutally.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 11:05 p.m. CST

    This sucks

    by John Kenny

    What a shocker.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 11:09 p.m. CST

    It's time to put the "vs." thing to bed

    by 2soon2eat

    Kid, I like you. You post a lot of articles, and you bring a fresh seemingly younger feel to the blog. But the whole versus thing is really starting to annoy us more and more. It sounds negative and confrontational. I get that you want to differentiate from the other posters here. How about a little creativity where you mix it up? "The Kidd rounds up The Campaign." "High noon at the Bourne Legacy Corral." The Kidd gets "Uninvited" to the Dark Knight Rises. That way you can keep your schtick without sounding like kind of a dick.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 11:29 p.m. CST

    Fucking Hilarious!

    by adeceasedfan

    Just got out of a packed show. WTF? Every showing from 7 and later SOLD OUT. I'm in NC tho. Curious as to how this pans out elsewhere. Not surprised with Kidd's take (it's funny, but I hated it) The only thing I agree with is that the campaign ads get unbelievable towards the end. However, this is fairly over the top the whole way through. And Hard R. I didn't realize it wasn't PG-13 until it started. If you like Ferrell, don't miss it, but I really love and bought ticket because of Galifianakis. Added bonus, the majority of the cast got the NC accent. No fake Gone with the Wind Georg-ah accents. A huge pet peeve. To address many Ferrell haters who say he's doing his Dubya. Not at all. It's totally a John Edwards thing and a really different delivery.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Seriously, is there ANYTHING the Kidd likes? Anything at all?

    by Robert Evans

  • most the Studio Stuff is crap IMO too.So maybe he could expand his reviews of just the main fare that opens every Friday at the megaplexes and get a couple of Indy reviews or foreign stuff. I think it would be welcome as I generally tend to agree with his reviews. Off topic-anybody here from LA going to check out Khan and The Thing Double Feature this Sun/Mon/Tues playing at The New Beverly? I'll be there with blood sample petri dish...oh and a flamethrower.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 12:09 a.m. CST

    Adding to the "Vs." discussion...

    by HansBubi

    I also feel that it is time for The Kidd to move beyond using "The Kidd Vs. _______" titles. You don't even need to comment on it with your next review. Just stop doing it, and we'll all be better off. I realize the writers on this website use silly nicknames, and so it might seem nit-picky or cynical to criticize the use of "Vs." in review titles, yet I still think there is no debate. It's time to retire that gimmicky idea. I think retiring it would create a great new window for you to start anew (in a metaphorical way) and grow as a writer. I would seriously prefer "The Kidd reviews The Campaign" over "The Kidd Vs. The Campaign."

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 12:47 a.m. CST

    I really don't have a problem with the VS thing...

    by lochkray

    Although, it does leave me with a question: If the movie is good and the Kidd enjoys it, does that mean he won? Or lost? Does -vs- indicate a competition against the movie's good quality, or a fight against it's failures. I'm reminded of the quote from the movie Ratatoulie, from the critic in regards to his profession that: -the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so- So, if the Kidd's approach to film criticism is as going-up-against the movies, and the value of his position can only be seen as lesser to the film being critiqued, does that mean he has automatically lost? Or is -VS- in reference to the Dutch abbreviation for U.S.A.? Which might somehow work in the context of this particular movie. Any-which-way, I'm pretty sure I'm thinking waaaaaaaaaay too much about this, and my employer would be upset to know that I'm spending my work hours typing out crap like this.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 1:15 a.m. CST

    Does The Kidd ever like ANYTHING?

    by grandmoffpenis

    Seriously. Seems like a bit of a hater.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 1:26 a.m. CST

    I would punch a baby for a mere $60 windfall.

    by UltraTron

  • i swear to god, kidd, you either can't enjoy movies or you think it's your job to critique them as if someone cares what you think

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 2:15 a.m. CST

    most shocking momennt for me in the movie was the...

    by antonphd

    SPOILER ALERT!!! the nipple and how long it just went on and on and one. followed by zach not turning out to be gay, which i totally thought would happen.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 2:17 a.m. CST

    my take on critics and the kidd vs _____

    by antonphd

    if you haven't made a film, keep your critic to yourself, cause you know nothing. say what you like or don't like, but say it as what it is... just your opinion.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 2:18 a.m. CST

    damn it, fucked up my last comment

    by antonphd

    if you haven't made a film, keep your critique to yourself, because you know nothing. say what you like or don't like about the film, but say it as what it is... just your opinion as a member of the audience.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 3:54 a.m. CST

    The Kidd Peacefully Accepts Transformers 4...

    by hulkiest

    up the ass. Is that what you'd prefer? It's a fucking title to a fucking review about a fucking movie that doesn't matter!!!! Geez...

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 3:54 a.m. CST


    by Vladimir I. Lenin

    BOB ROBERTS owns The Campain easily!

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 9:57 a.m. CST

    Wow, AICNerds will nit-pick ANYTHING!

    by Nice Marmot

    Why give enough of a CRAP to actually type anything regarding Kidd's use of "Vs."?

  • He never comes back against the haters, he never tried to defend his point of view. Its like he just types up a half hearted bullshit review, submits it for his paycheck, and never bothers doing anything else on the site. He's a horrible fucking addition to the site. I seriously hope he disappears soon and never comes back.

  • Aug. 11, 2012, 6:06 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I think I'll go see Dark Knight in 70mm IMAX again.

    by bat725

  • Aug. 12, 2012, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Downright lousy movie

    by FrodrikFronkunsteen

    The Campaign was utterly boring with just a few laughs. Don't waste your money. This is the kind of movie that you might enjoy in the comfort of your home so you can forward through it or rewind if you fall asleep.

  • Aug. 12, 2012, 9:07 a.m. CST


    by FrodrikFronkunsteen

    Wow. This is the second time I've posted last! more posts. I am last.

  • Aug. 12, 2012, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Movie looks good. This *kidd* character, not so much.

    by Mike

    Still waiting on him and his girlfriend to leave and be replaced with decent reviewers. I miss the days when this site had some good stuff on it. Seems like a long time ago now. This kidd loser needs to go far, far away and never return.

  • Aug. 13, 2012, 6:05 a.m. CST

    by TheMachinist

    I think it did what it set out to do, and did it well: Provide a hilariously satirized version of today's ridiculous campaigns.It's no Idiocracy, but it tries it's best. As for the Trading Places bit, I think that was a given when you saw Akroyd's name in the casting.

  • Aug. 13, 2012, 8:26 a.m. CST


    by TheMachinist

    He did in the beginning, then he got tired of the same questions being asked over and over ad infinitum.