A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Campaign, which stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, is a raunch-fest from beginning to end, starting with a scene that shows a family with young kids listening to a very lewd, graphic answering machine message. There's some nudity -- a woman's nipple is visible in a social setting -- and plenty of jokes about sex and a married man's indiscretions. Expect lots of swearing, too, including various versions of "f--k," plus "s--t," "d--k," and more. Still, the subject matter -- a congressional election and the dirty campaigning that leads up to it -- is a gold mine for comedy, and it may leave you thinking about our electoral process in general, too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Longtime North Carolina congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is up for re-election. With no one running against him, he's entitled and sloppy, finally leading to a major indiscretion that leaves his main financial supporters -- the wealthy, corrupt Motch Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) -- searching for another candidate to back (and control). Enter Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the eccentric son of a once-rainmaker. Marty wants to do good in Washington, D.C., but little does he know that the Motch Brothers aren't about helping at all. In no time, Marty becomes consumed by the campaign, losing his identity much like Cam did.
Is it any good?
Like a comedy roast, THE CAMPAIGN is stuffed with would-be hilarious moments, egged on by stunt after stunt from the able stars. And fair is fair: Whichever genius came up with this pairing deserves a bonus. Combining Ferrell's oafy humor and Galifianakis' creepy-funny vibe is a win, especially in the context of the madness that is an election run-up.
But two-thirds of the way through, The Campaign starts to feel like the endless election, with no clear idea how to end or even when. We're happy to be laughing, but we'd like to know where we're going. Part of the fun of a riotous satire like this is that we know that, no matter how delicious every moment feels, in the end we'll be able to relish it in its entirety. But here we get an unsurprising and entirely conventional, finale. With The Campaign, the parts are greater than the whole. Let's vote already.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the main characters. Are they intended to be role models? Do you think they would resonate with people in real life? Which one would you vote for?
What is The Campaign saying about the American electoral system? Do you think candidates are manufactured or supported by rich people or companies that most voters aren't aware of?
What's the appeal of over-the-top raunchy comedies? What audience are they aimed at? Do they succeed?
- In theaters: August 10, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 30, 2012
- Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis
- Director: Jay Roach
- Studio: Everyman Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content, language and brief nudity
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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