Will Ferrell plays the cocky, over-the-top character he does so well and Zach Galifianakis the type of awkward that made him famous as two men running for the one seat in US Congress...dirty tactics and hilarity ensues.
If only it came from the first viewing.
It's been a long while since I've watched a Will Ferrell movie for the first time and found it funny. Like, as funny as I might now. Step Brothers was awful the first time around, Semi-Pro wasn't much better and The Other Guys had its moments. But there isn't a drunken weekend that goes by that I don't crack out a bit of Step Brothers "Boats n Hoes", or Semi-Pro's "Love Me Sexy" or try and remember the full "lions v tuna fish" line from The Other Guys.
But it's been a long time since the instant hilarity of Anchorman or Talladega Nights. The Campaign is better than the three I mentioned above, but only because Zach Galifianakis shares the same amount of screen time as Will Ferrell, who I've long said - in most cases - works best as a supporting player.
That's nothing against his skills - he steers the ship brilliantly as Ron Burgundy - but look at him in Old School or Wedding Crashers: he steals the show.
Whatever your Will Ferrell dosage preference is, that's not the problem here: the script is. It doesn't matter how funny Will or Zach can be; give them a bad script and there is only so much they can do with it.
A shame, as the concept and characters of The Campaign are great…on paper: a slick, sleazy, over-confident politician - whose political career so far has been virtually unopposed - suddenly finds himself up against an unlikely contender; the Ned Flanders-like local tour guide, who has the backing of two scheming billionaire brothers. It's a very mainstream look/lesson on how American politics (may) run...covered in toilet humour.
And that's the problem: while the story has been watered down, so has the funny. For example: Galifianakis' Marty Huggins reminds his family that through the campaign they'll be under intense media scrutiny and asks that they be honest with him; leading to Kid #1 confessing "well, yesterday I yada yada dick joke"; Kid #2 jumping in with "I've been hiding yada yada dick joke". Back and forth between the brothers before Wife screams out "when I'm at home alone I yada yada dick joke".
This sorta gear is so beneath both lead actors, but it's clearly the easiest way to have all audiences "get it", even if that does mean sacrificing the word-of-mouth services from the smarter audience members (no ego intended).
It sure has its moments - at least, the ones that weren't overplayed and overruined by the trailers (The Campaign is not one of the few movies that saves its best stuff) – a shining example of this is Ferrell’s Cam Brady and his ultimate tactic to throw his opponent off his game. But, for me anyway, The Campaign joins the growing list of Will Ferrell movies that will hopefully get better with repeat viewings...if we go back.