Rowdy political comedy The Campaign attempts to skewer the vicious skullduggery and folly of US elections, but even though rival candidates Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis score the occasional big laugh the satire is too obvious to deliver more than a pinprick.
Ferrell’s character, Cam Brady, is a sleazy and complacent congressman who represents a backwater district in North Carolina. Running unopposed, he’s heading for a fifth victory until he commits a sexual gaffe so flagrant that a pair of crooked power brokers see the chance to get their own candidate into power.
Galifianakis’s naive milksop Marty Huggins, the despised younger son of a local bigwig, is their unlikely choice. Steered by his ruthless campaign manager (Dylan McDermott), the well-meaning Marty draws ever closer to Cam in the polls but becomes just as dirty and cutthroat as his rival in the process.
Along the way, Meet the Parents director Jay Roach lets swing with some comic haymakers – literally so when Cam aims a punch at his rival and ends up socking a baby in the jaw instead – but the gags are so unsubtle that the satire fails to deliver a knockout blow.
The casting of Dan Aykroyd as one of the story’s fraternal power brokers (alongside John Lithgow) is an interesting touch but by recalling Trading Places’ scheming Duke Brothers only serves to highlight The Campaign’s mediocrity.
In cinemas from Friday 28th September.
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