Sunday, September 2, 2012

"The Campaign" Is Not Far from Reality

Family Men
     Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star in The Campaign as, respectively, a five-term, boneheaded incumbent U.S. Representative and his unlikely, fey opponent.  It moves quickly, zings the current campaign season, and nails the reluctance of candidates to really address issues with proposed solutions, either because they underestimate their
constituents’ intelligence, have a paucity of plans, or really don’t understand the issues themselves.  Like some other Ferrell movies (Talladega Nights, The Other Guys), it takes a professional milieu that has been over publicized, and perhaps over romanticized, and proceeds to skewer it on its own terms with a fillip of over-the-top antics for comedic license.  

The Huggin Family Appear Before the Media
     Jay Roach is a natural as the director because he’s directed behind the scenes docu(comedy)dramas Recount and Game Change as well as the Austin Powers trilogy and the Meet The Parents trilogy.  Chris Hency, co-writer with Shawn Harwell, also penned the sharp-eyed The Other Guys that had the guts to indict Big Business and does so here while the actual U.S. Congress doesn’t dare.  People can complain about Presidents Bush and Obama and their reactions to the recession, but Big Business Professionals created the mess, kept their bonuses, and have faced minimal consequences.  It fully reveals the hypocrisy of both parties and their listlessness in serving the American people.  What it shows is that our elected politicians pander themselves and their ideas first, while their staffs are the amoral operators and ventriloquists who keep them there.  The media pundits merely mouth platitudes, behave as entertainment reporters, and those analysts that investigate and really dig are treated either with contempt by those with differing political philosophies or polite indifference by the public.  Woodward and Bernstein brought down a Presidency with their exposure of his campaign staff’s illegal practices and his perceived compliance based on a background of vicious competitiveness.  Nowadays, would their coverage receive anything more than a 30 second blip?

How Far Will the Campaign Go?
     The Campaign is hilarious, foul-mouthed, and sometimes almost off-the-rails eccentric and yet, unlike some of the other comedies in which Ferrell and Galifianakis have starred, I believed it.  The last couple of scenes don’t have the same snap because they’re a feel good sop for the ruthless honesty that has come before.  I think most Americans hope that the truth will be revealed and the guilty indicted, but our current culture seems aimed towards an oligarchy using Capitalism as its raison d’être, rather than really exercising the discipline to sustain a democracy.  One family walked out during the showing we attended probably because they didn’t fully note the R rating and there were few viewers to begin with. That was a shame because this is a thoughtful, adult work that is being mistakenly sold as an adolescent laugh riot.

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