Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Campaign

“The Campaign” has three writers, four producers, and zero laughs. Pitting Will Ferrell’s pandering, sex-addict Representative Cam Brady against Zack Galifianakis’ lovable loser, Marty Huggins (a watered-down version of Alan from “The Hangover”), this toothless satire of modern politics takes place on an alternate planet where a candidate gets a bump in the polls by intentionally seducing and bedding his opponent’s wife; a candidate overcomes a double-digit deficit with an Election Day ad encouraging voters to reveal their deepest secrets; and the winning candidate concedes the House seat to his opponent because he’s a nice guy.

In one scene, Huggins challenges the Bible-thumping Brady to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Even in his prime, Ferrell couldn’t get laughs out of lines like “Our father, who art in heaven, aloe vera be thy name” – and Ferrell’s way past his. He’s truly coasting here – cashing a paycheck – and badly needs a fresh new part that takes him out of his comfort zone. His best work in recent years has been as sidekick to Mark Wahlberg in “The Other Guys” and a quiet, almost dramatic turn in last year’s “Everything Must Go.” Galifianakis never finds the right notes in Huggins. He’s not quite as weird as everyone keeps saying, just vaguely sissified and sad. The comic timing of the whole movie is off a beat, leaving the small handful of ideas with potential unrealized.

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