Download The Campaign (2012) (HD)

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Man, what I wouldn’t give for a good, nasty political comedy right about now — one that sticks it to the blowhards, greedheads, and wing-nuts on both sides, skewers the media, follows the money, reveals the campaign process as a pandering farce. When was the last film on the subject that dared to draw blood? “In the Loop” in 2009? “Wag the Dog” in 1997?

“The Campaign” isn’t that movie, and it doesn’t try to be until its fumbling final half-hour. It’s just another happily idiotic Will Ferrell comedy, ably directed by Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents,” “Dinner for Schmucks”) and tossing its bawdy jokes at the side of the barn. Enough of them connect for a fair amount of indecent laughs to be had, but you can’t help thinking the filmmakers picked the wrong barn.

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Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a fatuous North Carolina congressman initially running unopposed in his upcoming election. (The role’s just Ron Burgundy with a touch of Dubya thrown in, but that’s fine by me, since “Anchorman” is probably the only movie Ferrell will be remembered for in 30 years.) The film’s villains — the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow), a pair of right-wing billionaire kingmakers whose resemblance to the Koch brothers is as subtle as a cinderblock — engineer an opponent so they can proceed with their plans to sell part of the state to the Chinese (!). Their chosen candidate is Marty Huggins, played by Zach Galifianakis in his “Due Date” prissypants mode.

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The best jokes in “The Campaign” have to do with the escalating war of images between Cam and Marty, in which each tries to take the patriotic high road while pushing his opponent further into the muck. The movie views campaigning, not unreasonably, as spy-vs.-spy pranksterism. Marty gets Cam drunk and arrested for DUI; Cam has sex with Marty’s wife (Sarah Baker) and releases the video as a campaign ad. Cam accidentally punches a baby and follows up by punching Uggie from “The Artist.” As comedy, the movie’s (literally) hit-and-miss. As satire, it’s barely trying.

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A few bits sting: Cam’s stump-speech mantra of “America, freedom, and Jesus”; a scene in which a fresh-faced intern (Aaron Jay Rome) suggests tackling the issues and is summarily hustled out of the room. I liked the tour of various religious services, Marty trying on a Jewish “yamaha” for the first time and Cam getting bitten by a revival-meeting snake. The most subversive idea in “The Campaign,” though, is also its most traditional: that beneath the tectonic hairdos, our elected officials are cretins and crooks. I wonder if more people will see this movie than will bother to vote.

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After a while, “The Campaign” decides it wants to be a sentimental, uplifting Frank Capra movie, with one of the candidates resisting the Motch brothers’ nefarious plans and taking a stand for campaign finance reform and the little people. This is disastrous, not because the ideas aren’t worth addressing but because the script (by Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell) isn’t equipped to deal with them. The movie’s a cartoon and a naive one at that, and if neo-cons and Tea Partiers want to accuse the filmmakers of pushing a “Hollywood agenda,” they can rest easy knowing the movie’s politics are so fuzzy as to be useless. Mentioning the Citizens United case once during the end credits doesn’t count as sustained civic discourse.

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Anyway, audiences don’t want satire or the issues. They want a big, dopey summer comedy that confirms their cynicism without challenging it. So here it is. As with politicians, we get the political movies we deserve.

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“The Campaign” is a great comedy film with lots of genuine laughs. Jay Roach, famous for his work in “Meet the Parents” and “Austin Powers,” has once again shown the world his talent with his latest movie, “The Campaign.” Unlike many comedy movies that use relationships as their plot, “The Campaign” takes on a political plot.

For a long time now, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has been North Carolina’s congressman. With massive backing from two corporate bigwigs, Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) and Glenn (John Lithgow), Cam Brady has been able to run unopposed. However, the self-centered congressman’s fate changes for the worse as the press uncovers the distasteful and inappropriate voicemail message, intended for his mistress. that he left on the answering machine of a devoted Christian family. Due to the resulting negative publicity, the Motch brothers decide to back another candidate to run against Cam Brady in the upcoming elections. They ditch Brady in favor of the naive and inexperienced Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) who is a God-fearing, married father of two kids. Though Huggins seems naïve and lacks the required skills, it is his dad’s (Brian Cox) influence that makes him a valued character. With massive connections, Huggins’s dad is seen to have the ability to pull funds from bigwig donors. In the spirit of bettering their new candidate’s ability to clinch the North Carolina seat, the Motch brothers hire an experienced political campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). Tim is faced with the doubtful chore of making the short and stout Huggins look incredible in comparison to the tall, well-toned Brady.

As the plot develops, Marty starts to find his image makeover invasive and demanding. In fact, there is a scene in the movie where his dog is replaced with a new breed of dog. Their home is also not left behind as it undergoes unexpected renovation, all in the name of political ratings approval. As much as it is for the good of his political career, Huggins and his wife Mitzi (Sarah Baker) feel quite overwhelmed and inconvenienced by the recent flurry of sudden renovations.

On the other side of the court, Brady’s manager (Jason Sudeikis) has his hands full as he tries to keep his candidate’s career afloat. Though Brady has good experience in the political field, his boss’s track record is full of damaging pitfalls. With a list of misdeeds that range from accidentally punching out a baby to confronting a police officer, it is clear that Brady’s candidacy is a hard sell. Both candidates become engaged in a chaotic grind of accusations and counter-accusations as they try to outwit each other. As the debates and campaigns get more barbaric and insulting, they start to question how far they are willing to go in order to win. It is clear that just like Brady, Huggins is also willing to say or do anything, provided it earns him political mileage.

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