Oh, boy, did they hit the nail on the head with this one!!! THE CAMPAIGN will make you sit up and take note. Moreover, it will make you laugh and think about this high octane political season we find ourselves in, but, don’t let me spoil it for you, see the movie for yourself and let’s FB & Twitter about it later.
When long-term Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, a pair of unscrupulous power brokers plots to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center.
At first, Marty appears to be the unlikeliest possible choice but, with the help of his new benefactors’ support and a cutthroat campaign manager, he soon becomes a contender who gives the charismatic Cam plenty to worry about.
As Election Day closes in, the two are locked in a dead heat, with insults quickly escalating to injury until all they care about is burying each other. It’s a mud-slinging, back-stabbing, home-wrecking comedy from “Meet the Parents” director Jay Roach that takes today’s political circus to its logical next level. Because, even if you believe campaign ethics have hit rock bottom…there’s still room to dig a whole lot deeper.
“The Campaign” also stars Jason Sudeikis as Cam Brady’s loyal but increasingly overwhelmed campaign manager, Mitch; and Katherine LaNasa as Cam’s single-minded wife, Rose. Dylan McDermott stars as Tim Wattley, tasked with transforming Marty Huggins’s public image; with John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd as the powerful Motch brothers, the money behind his implausible bid for Congress; and Brian Cox as Marty’s father, retired political operator Raymond Huggins, who cannot fathom what any of them see in his son.
Ferrell, Galifianakis, McDermott and director Jay Roach sat with press at the exquisite Crosby Street Hotel in New York’s tony SoHo District to talk about THE CAMPAIGN. In person, the guys were dead pan witty –on film– they are hilariously funny.
The conversation follows–
Beyond the obvious, what was your motivation to do this film?
FERRELL: First and foremost, it was about making a funny movie. A chance for Zack and I to do something together, a chance to work with Jay and then to have a point of view along with a big broad commercial comedy is not always done. It’s fun to take advantage of an opportunity like that.
Did you draw upon previous character portrayals?
FERRELL: I really didn’t want this to have anything to do with George Bush. This character, Cam Brady, was more of a polished politician in the sense that he knows how to give a great stump speech and that sort of thing. I kind of stole from politicians more like John Edwards and people like that. The kind of character who doesn’t think he is ever wrong, that sort of thing, so I guess you could draw that parallel.
GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, same thing. Will’s answer will cover for mine. Actually, I have been doing this character since high school but in high school he was called “The Effeminate Racist” so it was a character I would perform for my dad. Then, through the years, I just did it at clubs here and there then it got to be in a movie with Will Ferrell. That’s pretty exciting. As far as drawing on political figures, not really because my character didn’t need to draw on any political figures because he didn’t know what he was doing in the first place. The more naive he was, the better, I think.
Do you think this movie will wake Americans up about political campaigns?
GALIFINAKIS: No, never. It was a nice run this country, we tried. I mean you would hope that somebody would, but I don’t know if 17 year olds really pay attention to this kind of thing. It would be nice if it caused a conversation between mall rats that usually don’t talk politics.
Released in August, there are November datelines in the film, intentional?
ROACH: Well, it is just the fact that elections happen in November so it had to be tied to the congressional elections that are always in November; it was done just to make it more authentic.
Having worked on several politically themed film projects (HBO’s “Recount” and “Game Change”), in your opinion what makes a political film a classic?
ROACH: I wouldn’t be able to tell you what makes one classic, there haven’t been a huge number of political comedies. I liked “Primary Colors” and “Wag the Dog.” The latter is classic. Part of what that film did was confirm your worst suspicions about how things went on behind the scenes and took it that much further. I’ve always been interested in the behind the scenes part– the spin doctors who take someone and try to make the most out of their positive attributes and keep their skeletons hidden. The other great aspect is turning a bad thing into a good thing–l my candidate got C’s in college so therefore, he’s more like you, or my candidate cheated on his wife so he’s an even more virile man. That’s some of what we tried to do with this film.
How would you describe this film?
GALIFINAKIS: Well, I think if people are laughing at the movie and they feel what we were going for and see the heightened reality that we’ve come up with as not that heightened compared to reality. I think that’s kind of a sad but funny state of affairs. As far as what we can do about it? I mean, the money in politics is just the problem and that’s not a ‘left’ or ‘right’ thing. I just think that money pollutes the process and we’re trying to say in this film.
FERRELL: Yeah, I think comedy is a great tool to point things out, satirically. One of the things we’re also trying to point out is that the system is getting so insane that it’s not attracting the best people to run for office. You have to jump through so many hoops– your life has to be exposed on such a level and you have to participate in such tactics that, I think a lot of talented people probably just say, ‘that’s OK, it’s not for me.’
GALIFINAKIS: It seems there are a lot of socio-paths right now that are in office.
What did you enjoy most about making this movie?
FERRELL: I enjoyed making fun of the attack ads that are out there.
GALIFINAKIS: I like watching debates; when the debates get a little dumb and the crowd gets a little dumb. I liked the debates in the movie and the people who attend them. They just get as ridiculous as the candidates in some of the debates. I’ve always thought that kind of ‘en masse thinking’ is funny and it’s funny how we as a society can be so manipulated by the media and get behind things without giving it a ton of thought. I always think that’s really funny.
Given a choice of government jobs, where would you work?
FERRELL: Any government job, yeah there are so many. If I wasn’t in comedy I would have worked probably payroll services just because of the excitement.
GALIFINAKIS: It’s really important for people like me, so probably the DMV.
McDERMOTT: I’d have to say the post office, I love them.
Was there a particular look you were going for as far as the hair style of your character?
FERRELL: Yeah, I literally wanted John Edwards’ hair, a politician with perfect hair and $900 hair cuts; things like that were inspirational to me.
GALIFINAKIS: Al Sharpton.