“Sex Scandal Sinks Reelection Bid.”
It’s an Onion article, but it’s also a headline we’re all too familiar with.
Years of congressmen sexting dick pics and presidential candidates having affairs gives credence to “The Campaign,” director Jay Roach’s satirical political comedy uniting Will Ferrell as incumbent congressman Cam Brady, and Zach Galifianakis as political newbie Marty Huggins.
Of course, Brady’s a popular Democratic congressman running unopposed in North Carolina’s 14th district when his extramarital affair causes a dive in his poll numbers. Seeing an opportunity to buy another election, “Made In Meri-Kai” (pronounced America) CEOs Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) back Huggins, a local tour guide.
The problem is that while Brady’s tall and presidential-looking like former presidents Abraham Lincoln or George W. Bush (Ferrell’s impersonated Bush on numerous “Saturday Night Live” skits), Huggins’ a short, stout and homely Douglas Adams.
And, as you know from watching the Kennedy/Nixon debate, looks matter in the political horse-race almost as much as kissing babies.
Galifianakis’ dwarf-like stature is the source of some of the humor in “The Campaign.” Huggins can’t see over the podium during a debate. He’s cheery and socially awkward like “The Simpson’s” Ned Flanders. Before Brady introduces his opponent with a series of unflattering and hilarious photos at a fundraiser brunch, Huggins talks about his pugs, Poundcake and Muffin. The neighbors describe him as odd, and his facial hair resembles members of Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist groups.
Brady, on the other hand, is a slick political machine, skilled at evading questions, speaking in recycled sound-bites and taking money from anyone. Beneath that phoney guise is a large appetite for women and a tendency for political gaffes.
Despite the movie’s contrived Hollywood ending, writers Adam McKay (of “Anchorman” fame), Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy offer a sharp and funny social critique of the sad reality of the political process: big money wins elections.
It’s no wonder no one like politicians these days — especially when the choice is increasingly between dog poop and pond scum.