Mr. Movie

'The Campaign' misses Mr. Movie's vote

Few topics are more fun than political humor. Done correctly and it leads to belly laughs for all -- conservatives, liberals and everyone in between.

Put political humor in the wrong hands and it's a disaster. Give it to Will Farrell and it's as dangerous as picking the wrong vice-presidential candidate.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Ferrell -- as you know -- with nothing to do, and a hole-filled script, tends to ratchet his voice up an octave and start blathering. The Campaign has lots of that. Line after line thrown out with the speed of a whistle stop, some stick, most don't.

Once in awhile Farrell will actually slow down a bit, drop the voice and do something funny. Just not often enough.

His co-star Zach Galifianakis, on the other hand, is also popular and does a brilliant lovable goof. He jerks very few chains and -- unlike Ferrell -- gives a fairly even performance as the Farrell's likable, femmy straight man.

Ferrell is Cam Brady, a corrupt North Carolina congressman in the battle of his political life. He's opposed in the November election by Galifianakis' Marty Huggins. Galifianakis plays nice, simple, easy-going family man manipulated by a political machine.

Stepping outside his comfort zone, Huggins engages in a war of words and trash talk that escalates. Though he's outgunned by the more experienced slime ball, Brady, Huggins plows forward. It eventually leads to more serious things like sexual affairs, gun play and baby slapping.

Baby slapping?

That bit of -- no pun intended -- slapstick is funny. But not much else is unless you're a big-time Farrell fan. Not all of us go that direction. To appease us, and a more sophisticated audience, writers Chris Henchy (The Other Guys, Land of the Lost) and TV series writer Shawn Hartwell plant a clever piece of political humor here and there. Most of it will be lost on Farrell fanatics. Also doubtful is the more sophisticated among us seeing the film at all.

If you're not a Farrell fan, you don't tend to see Farrell movies.

The machine is done nicely by old pros Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow and Brian Cox, who add the film's only sophistication.

If you do get stuck seeing this, the film's funniest bits are courtesy of Asian actress Karen Maruyama who play's Cox's maid. Face straight, Maruyama delivers her lines like she's doing a character from Gone with the Wind. It's unexpected, fun and funny.

Too bad most of the rest of the movie isn't as entertaining. The premise has so much potential, but like most congressional bills, it gets amended to the point that it serves a few and leaves the rest of us out. Those are negatives. The positive? Just one. The Campaign is more fun than the Obama/Romney campaign. Unfortunately, it's just as predictable.

When the results are released and the votes are tabulated, The Campaign doesn't get mine. In fact, I recommend a veto. You may elect to make the same choice. Or not. It's a free country.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Director: Jay Roach

Stars: Will Farrell, Zach Galifiankis, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott

Rated R for language, sex, crude themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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