With the US Presidential Election only three months away the timing is perfect for a satire about the political campaign trail, and Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are happy to oblige with hilarious performances that fluctuate between clever and crass.
Ferrell plays smooth talking, sleazy Cam Brady, a Republican North Carolina congressman who suffers a drop in the polls after leaving an explicit message meant for his mistress on a constituent's phone. With Congressional Elections about to take place, two corrupt and powerful businessmen (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) see the opportunity to run a candidate against Brady.
They select naive, idealistic family man Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), who is transformed from effeminate geek to strong candidate by campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). After years of running unopposed Brady has a fight on his hands, with both candidates prepared to stoop as low as they have to in order to win.
Much of the source material will be familiar to those with even a passing interest in American politics; adultery, tweeting your private parts, and questioning other candidates' religion and faith included.
With a country drawl, verbal gaffes, and the ability to talk a lot about almost nothing, we've seen Ferrell do his Cam Brady routine before as George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live and in the short film Presidential Reunion. Not that it's a problem; he does it so well.
When Ferrell and Galifianakis really take the campaign into the gutter, by dragging their kids and wives into the campaign, it's not only the politics that take a downhill slide.
The comedy also suffers as the more exaggerated and crass the boys get the weaker the premise becomes.
Thankfully director Jay Roach is familiar with comedy (he produced Borat and directed the Meet the Parents/Fockers franchise) and political dramas (he did the HBO movie Game Change about John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign) and recognises that a cracking pace is required.
At 85 minutes this might be one of the shortest election campaigns around, but with a cast that's on-fire and the humour inappropriate and irreverent, it's surely one of the funniest.
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
Director: Jay Roach
Running time: 85 mins
Verdict: Uneven comedy, but plenty of laughs to be had
- TimeOutBy Francesca Rudkin Email Francesca