Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis – The Campaign

August 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the new comedy “The Campaign,” Will Ferrell stars as Cam Brady, a career politician forced to run against naive newcomer Marty Huggins, played by Zach Galifianakis. I had a chance to sit down with the comedic candidates in Dallas where we discussed political influences, bearded judges, and what junk foods appeal to white males.

We’re there any real politicians you drew on for Cam Brady and Marty Huggins?

Will Ferrell: Well I kind of stole Cam’s hair from John Edwards–

I was going to mention that, because it looks very Edwardian.

WF: Yeah, yes. I loved how perfect his hair was at all times and I wanted that to be kind of a signature thing about Cam. In general I’m kind of that, as we’ve seen from a lot of politicians, someone who’s philandering and doesn’t really care about the day to day part of governing as they do the endgame of what I aspire to be only, which is Vice-President.

I detect a little Rick Perry in there, too.

WF: (Laughs) Could be. Could be. We were watching the debates the whole time while we were filming this.

A lot of gaffes.

WF: We saw the historic–

It made me a proud Texan.

WF: Trying to think of the three things he would cut from the Cabinet.

Zach Galifianakis: That was really good.

WF: That was fantastic.

What about Marty?

ZG: No, I didn’t really draw from anyone in particular. He didn’t have to be a politician because he was plucked out of obscurity. So he was just Marty. But I’ve done this character before for many years, basically for my father, and I kind of kept it under wraps and then I started doing him on stage and stuff. He was a character called The Effeminate Racist and then he just kind of evolved into this character.

Is not having the beard important to The Effeminate Racist?

ZG: Yeah, yeah, because when I first started doing it I didn’t have a beard. I was just a kid.

You don’t really see the beard on politicians much these days.

ZG: No, they don’t–

WF: Yeah, you don’t, really. Yeah.

ZG: Well, uh…he wasn’t really a politician but he had the…Bork.

Bork?

ZG: Not Bork. He was the judge guy. What was his name?

WF: Judge Bork?

ZG: Bork? Was that his name?

WF: Oh. You know, C. Everett Koop.

ZG: Koop was the guy I was thinking of!

WF: The Surgeon General.

Well he just had the beard. No mustache, right? He had sort of the Amish, Abe Lincoln–

WF: Abe Lincoln. Yeah.

ZG: Yeah. But who was Bork? Was that his name?

I think that’s an alien, isn’t it?

WF: He was being considered for the Supreme Court.

ZG: That’s not his name though.

WF: Okay.

ZG: Anyway, sorry.

You’re known for your–

WF: Björk? Maybe?

ZG: Yes, Björk, the Icelandic–

She gets confused with judges all the time.

WF: Yeah.

Will, you’re known for your portrayal of George W. Bush. Was it nice to jump the aisle a play a horndog Democrat this time?

WF: Yeah, yeah. It was nice to do that and to try to hopefully make a distinction between the two, even though I’ve done Bush for so long that it was hard. Sometimes I’d do some takes and I’m like, “God, that sounded just like George Bush. I gotta try to swing it back to more North Carolina.”

Say I’m a potential voter. How do you appeal to me as a white male in my 30s?

ZG: You’re white?

Some would say, yeah. That’s what I fill out on the college applications.

ZG: Hmm. Okay.

WF: I would appeal to you in terms of–as a candidate?

Right.

WF: Yeah, um…I would offer you a world rich in frozen pizza.

I can take that.

WF: And sugary soft drinks.

You’re right in my wheelhouse there.

WF: Yeah.

ZG: You’re basing that off the demographic of his–

WF: White male in his 30s.

And probably the way I look. Let’s be fair.

ZG: Man, that’s–God, you’re really good at that.

WF: Yeah. I am. That’s how observant I am.

 

The Campaign

August 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Jay Roach (“Austin Powers,” “Meet the Parents”)
Written by: Chris Henchy (“The Other Guys”) and Shawn Harwell (debut)

Let’s face it: Will Ferrell’s comedies consist of little more than skeletons of plot strung together with stretches of the actor and his co-stars hilariously improvising. Yeah, you might remember that “Anchorman” had a running plot thread featuring the birth of a panda at the San Diego Zoo or that “Step Brothers” wrapped up at the helicopter expo known as the Catalina Wine Mixer, but the things that are stuck in your head are the Channel 4 News Team’s discussing a man’s death by trident or two grown men’s creepy, child-like glee at the thought of getting bunk beds, thus freeing up floor space in their shared bedroom for so many more activities.

The trend continues in “The Campaign.” Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a Democratic Congressman from North Carolina with John Edwards’ hair and Bill Clinton’s libido. Brady coasts through Congress with one goal and one goal only: being Vice President. Okay, two goals: being Vice President and having lots and lots of extramarital sex with perky young supporters. When a sex scandal inevitably rocks Brady’s reelection campaign, unscrupulous billionaire businessmen the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) hand pick a candidate to take Brady down and further their own interests: naive local tour guide Marty Huggins, played by Zach Galifianakis.

Pitting two comedic heavyweights like Ferrell and Galifiankis against one another pays off in predictably humorous fashion. Ferrell, turning years of parodying George W. Bush on its ear, once again gives his all to the sharp, sleazy Cam Brady while Galifianakis steps away from the semi-dangerous weirdo characters that made him famous and instead plays Marty Huggins as a sweet, simple man forced to adapt after being thrust into the cutthroat world of corporate-backed politics. The film, however, would’ve worked better if director Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents”) would have given in more to the absurdity and less to the half-hearted political sentimentality.

Roach, best known for comedies like the “Austin Powers” series, recently dove head-first into political statement filmmaking with a pair of HBO movies: the solid “Recount” and the so-so “Game Change.” Perhaps “The Campaign” represented a happy medium to him, but the focus on heavy political issues (loss of jobs to China, evil corporate influence on elections) in the third act derail the comedy just as it starts to get sublimely whacked-out. If you’ve watched the trailers and commercials (or even early cuts of the movie) closely, you’ll notice how many jokes didn’t make it into the final film. While this practice is common in Hollywood, it’s disappointing that it seems to have been done in service to trite political statements like Congress needs people who care or that corporate agendas are ruining America.

Like a rider for a bridge to nowhere tacked on to a health care bill, the too-serious political mumbo-jumbo is annoying, but not annoying enough to sour the whole deal. Ultimately “The Campaign” delivers what is promises: big laughs.