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The Campaign

Comedic superstars aim their raunchy satire at politics.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message is a bit muddled (and obscured by some of the over-the-top content), but essentially, it's that unless you know yourself and have the fortitude to withstand temptations and pressure from others, you'll be led astray from the path you once envisioned for yourself.

Positive role models

Both Cam and Marty behave rottenly, but in different ways: Cam is crass and boorish; Marty is fake and calculating. Still, they both find their way in the end.

Violence

Lots of cartoonish "fighting" between the two leads, with them swatting and yelling at each other. A man shoots another in the leg. Another man throws things around in a temper tantrum.

Sex

Racy, with tons of sex jokes. One character leaves a very lewd message on an answering machine that's heard by children. A few sex scenes with exaggerated movements and sounds. A woman is seen in public with her nipple visible. One candidate thinks it's a good idea to release a sex tape as part of his campaign. A woman sleeps with a man who's not her husband. A tween talks about feeling up a man's wife.

Language

Frequent use of very colorful language, including "f--k," "motherf----er," "s--t," "d--k," "p---y," "ass," "damn," "a--hole," "hell," "crap," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.

Consumerism

Labels/brands seen or mentioned include Google, MSNBC, Ruby Tuesday, Goldman Sachs, Under Armor, Honey Nut Cheerios, CNN, Facebook, Scrabble, Budweiser, Panasonic, Red Bull, and Yamaha.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of over-the-top stunts played for laughs, including one scene in which one man gets another drunk on hard liquor on purpose, then calls the cops on him when he lets him drive drunk. A few other boozing scenes in social situations. A woman smokes a cigarette in secret.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 10, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date: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

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Teen, 15 years old Written byblahg January 25, 2013

no

not appropriate for younger kids
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written bysurfsup August 17, 2012

Irresponsible movie production, direction, inception where child actors are concerned

I can't believe reviews I've read of The Campaign don't share my outrage at the lines the child actors are made to say in this movie. It is not funny for adults to have a child actor say he did something to an animal's penis, or for a child actor to say a line with vagina in it for shock value. I think this is abusive and irresponsible. Will Farrell; Dylan McDermott; John Lithgow; Dan Akroyd and all of the adults in this movie should be ashamed to support the lines the child actors in The Campaign were made to say.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written bybranman894 April 21, 2013

The Election is a good time

The Election is really funny. When I watched it I couldn't stop laughing like everyone else in the theater. Once you see it you will see what I mean. I will probably see it again later on. If you need a good comedy this movie is the movie for you.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking