1 November 2012 | Argemaluco
An entertaining, but not totally satisfactory, political satire
The election period in the United States has traditionally been a fountain of humorous material exploited to the maximum by the comedians, most of them on TV, but also in cinema, as we can see this year in the film The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach, whose filmography includes some excellent comedies (the Austin Powers trilogy)...and other deeply irritating ones (Meet the Fockers, Dinner for Schmucks). I would also like to point out that The Campaign isn't Roach's first incursion into the political field, because he also made the TV movies Recount and Game Change, which both made a brilliant work in portraying the pressures and vices from a presidential campaign from a serious and (more or less) impartial point of view. Could The Campaign achieve the same but in a humorous context? I don't think so, but I can't deny I found the film entertaining nevertheless.
I think there's an excellent political satire hidden in some place of The Campaign. The general premise of an inept lout who is transformed into a charismatic candidate manipulated by the economical elite is very interesting; and even though it's not completely original, I think it's appropriate to occasionally remember it in order to recognize it whenever we find it in the real world (something which undoubtedly happens with a sad frequency). However, the few intelligence from the screenplay is diluted by the coarse and vulgar humor employed as vehicle of the message. I have to admit I laughed in various occasions (specially during the "Our Father" scene), and I definitely found some ingenuity in the creation of absurd but credible situations (at least in the filthy context of contemporary politics)...however, for every scene that works, there's five or six which only provoke whining, specially due to the tendency the actors show to "play the fool". I think this is a very subjective point in any comedy; but in my personal taste, the humor always works better when the actors take their roles seriously and let the comedy to naturally flow from their attitudes and reactions. When they try to force the laughs with a physical or verbal affectation, they lose spontaneity and, specially, destruct the reality of the characters in order to transform them into caricatures.
And besides of that, I found the screenplay of The Campaign too innocent and predictable, taking a safe route until leading to a happy ending. So, I guess that not all the political satires can be as subtle and effective as Wag the Dog or In the Loop; however, I can give a moderate recommendation to The Campaign as an entertaining comedy, despite not being very memorable.