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‘The Campaign’ doesn’t deliver all of its promise

Movie review
By: Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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“The Campaign” Directed by Jay Roach Starring: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis Rating: Three out of five stars ‘The Campaign’ doesn’t deliver all of its promise By Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger An election year means that there will be politically-charged movies at the multiplex and “The Campaign” will shine a light on just how ridiculous the voting process can be. The film stars Will Ferrell as Cam Brady, a jargon-spewing congressman who phones it in because he always runs unopposed. When a pair of shady businessmen looks to fund a candidate they can put in their pocket, they tap simpleton Marty Huggins, played by Zach Galifianakis, to run against Brady and usurp his office. At first, Huggins is an effeminate and idiosyncratic man who has more to say about his pugs than he does his own candidacy. However, when he gets his bearings, Huggins proves to be everything that Brady isn’t. He cuts through the bureaucratic nonsense and offers up real ideas on how to help his community instead of spouting off pre-packaged candidate-speak. The rivalry between the two men is the meat of the film and Ferrell and Galifianakis play off each other brilliantly. Their gamesmanship reaches absurd levels and involves snake bites, baby punching and ridiculous political advertisements. Ferrell has a very specific brand of comedy that is riddled with non-sequiturs and heightened, winking satire. Those who subscribe to his cult of chuckle will find much to like here. Galifianakis also acquits himself well but the type of characters he plays is beginning to become repetitive and predictable. There’s only a slight degree of change between this role and those he played in “Due Date” and “The Hangover.” Beyond the two leads, “The Campaign” feels mostly weightless, due to an underdeveloped and glossed-over plot that merely serves as window dressing for an actor-to-actor showdown. Its jokes are sometimes hit-and-miss and the film is unlikely to leave an indelible impression but there are worse ways to spend time at the theater. Like any candidate, the promise is big but don’t expect “The Campaign” to fulfill all of it. Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.