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In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man: naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.
For more about The Campaign and the The Campaign Blu-ray release, see the The Campaign Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 27, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Brian Cox, John Lithgow
Director: Jay Roach
» See full cast & crew
The Campaign Blu-ray Review
"I'm Cam Brady and I seductively approve this message."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 27, 2012
Show of hands: who's tired of the 2012 debate cycle and U.S. presidential election? I'm more than ready for all the flip-flopping, mud-slinging, name-calling, hyper-extreme rhetoric and general schoolyard nonsense to end, and I'm just talking about the American electorate. Don't get me started on elected officials in both parties, who've somehow, intentionally or inadvertently (it varies), encouraged extremists of every stripe to believe whatever they want to believe without any care or consideration for the facts, cold hard evidence, verifiable statistics or, hey, here's a noble concept, the truth. Chances are that's why The Campaign came as such a relief. Had I caught it in theaters, even just three months ago, I probably wouldn't have warmed so easily to its one-dimensional satire. After watching four televised debates, hosting an exodus from Facebook, and overhearing enough boneheaded statements in local restaurants to make me swear off public places through December, though, I needed The Campaign. It's dim-witted, sure. It's juvenille and over the top too. But so is the election and the world of 24-hour News Cycle politics, and I've really needed a laugh lately.
Incumbent 14h District North Carolina Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is living high on his taxpayers' dime and running unopposed for his sixth consecutive term. Even a scandal and plummeting approval ratings can't keep a shameless candidate like Brady out of the Capital. Only a billionaire could do that... and Cam has the misfortune of turning two against him: wealthy one-percenters Wade (Dan Aykroyd) and Glen Motch (John Lithgow). With every experienced candidate in prison or in another district, though, the Motch Brothers have eight weeks to transform City of Hammond tourism director Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) into a viable congressman and a sure thing come Election Day. Enter steely eyed campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). With every vote on the line, Wattley teaches the once-meek Huggins how to play dirty, loading him with talking points and training the bumbling do-gooder in the fine art of character assassination. Cam doesn't take any of it lying down, of course, and responds in kind. Soon the 14th District and Hammond are vaulted onto the national stage as Cam and Marty go head to head, each man willing to win at any cost.
The ensuing blood feud is mostly played for cheap and easy laughs, Ferrell doing his best not to slip into his George W. Bush impression, Galifianakis doing yet another variation of his sensitive, flamboyant dog-lover routine. (Huggins and Due Date's Ethan Tremblay were separated at birth.) It isn't a very smart skewering of elections either, casting a wider net then more daring political comedies before it and relying on one too many sophomoric gags to plumb every last inch of the film's R-rating. Still, Cam and Marty's grudge match kept me laughing. Hard. The sort of laughs that erupt so suddenly and fiercely that no sound comes out. Not once, not twice, but more times than I care to count. It was embarrassing, frankly, and I wasn't the only one in the room making a fool of myself. I gotta say, though, it felt good. Cathartic even. After weeks, months really, of intense frustration with anything and everything that's wrong with American politics, The Campaign cut a swath through it all, ripping on everything from key politicians' scandalous affairs with big business to Super PACs, photo ops, candidate manufacturing and re-branding, mindless voters, erratic polling, shifting platforms, ravenous journalists and pundits, and the senseless tit for tat that dominates every Washington street fight, regardless of how trivial the issue.
Dumb as it can be, simplistic as it paints American politics, it's all pretty dead on too. Republican or Democrat, Red or Blue, Conservative or Liberal doesn't enter into it. Cam is a Dem and Marty bleeds red (after a transfusion from Wattley that is), but neither congressman or politico hopeful is a posterboy for the Left or the Right. Director Jay Roach doesn't shy away from poking fun at the parties or anything, but his jabs are light and expected, the larger punch being most politicians don't actually believe half the things they say or typically practice what they preach. The flipside being that Roach doesn't shove hard enough, doesn't cut deep enough. He pushes, he picks a few scabs, but he doesn't draw blood or go in for the kill. He even tacks on an uninspired happy ending that comes almost literally out of nowhere, delivering the dull, dutiful message that everything would be A-OK if politicians started telling the truth. That's it? After lining up more than a dozen targets, Roach goes with "hug it out guys and stop lying?" Ah well. I didn't expect much more going in, so I'm having a tough time getting worked up about it. The Campaign is a timely but ultimately peripheral comedy that, once distanced from the election, will soon be forgotten. For the moment, it's a blast of welcome hilarity.
The Campaign Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Campaign's strong-n-steady 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer doesn't make any gaffes, glaring or otherwise. The film's palette is understated but colorful (with screen-wide splashes of bold Democrat blues and robust Republican reds), skintones are natural, black levels are deep and satisfying, and contrast is consistent throughout. Detail is impressive too, showcasing everything from the neatly trimmed hairs in Galifianakis' mustache to the tiny beads of sweat on a raging Ferrell's flushed face. Edges are clean and well-defined without any notable ringing, textures are crisp and nicely resolved, and delineation is quite good. There's no macroblocking, banding or aliasing either, and what distractions there are -- a few instances of spiking noise and negligible crush -- are exceedingly minor and barely worth mentioning.
The Campaign Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track faithfully presents The Campaign's largely front-heavy sound design without any real issues to report. The rear speakers still keep busy, particularly during Cam and Marty's debates, town hall meetings and more aggressive tussles. But when the crowds disperse, so too do many of the soundfield's more immersive qualities. Fortunately, LFE output is solid and persistent, dynamics are more than adequate for a rowdy R-rated comedy, and dialogue is clean, clear and given full run of the place. Yes, Theodore Shapiro's music is often reduced to background noise and precision directional effects are few and far between. Even so, the mix is a lot of fun and does a decent job supporting Roach's Ferrell v. Galifianakis showdown.
The Campaign Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Campaign Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Campaign won't get my vote for comedy of the year, that's for sure. But it does have an enviable lineup of laughs, a pair of memorable turns from Ferrell and Galifianakis, and even a few near-classic moments, which is more than I can say for most. Warner's Blu-ray release is better, thanks to a terrific video transfer and a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. A fleet of extras would have helped I suppose, but what The Campaign really needed was a smarter script and sharper satire. Ah well. It's funny, I'll give it that. If you're growing weary of the constant partisan bickering and blathering littering the airwaves of late or if you're looking to hibernate until mid-November, Ferrell and Galifianakis will help make the next two weeks fly by that much faster.
The Campaign: Other Editions
The Campaign Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, October 29-November 4: The Campaign Rallies Top Sales - November 7, 2012
For the week ending on November 4th, Warner Bros' The Campaign topped the Blu-ray-only and overall package media charts. Director Jay Roach's politically-themed comedy did average business when it premiered last summer; the modestly-budgeted title grossed just ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: October 30-November 6 - October 28, 2012
The biggest Blu-ray release of the week is also one of the year's most anticipated Blu-rays: Universal's fifteen-film Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection. Barring two reissues - Warner Bros' North by Northwest disc and Universal's HD printing of Psycho ...
• The Campaign Blu-ray - September 27, 2012
Warner Home Video has announced the upcoming release of director Jay Roach's The Campaign on Blu-ray. The political parody stars Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover). Warner brings the comedy to stores ...
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