Will Ferrell stars as long-term Congressman Cam Brady who commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, in Warner Bros.’ “The Campaign,” a mud-slinging, back-stabbing, home-wrecking comedy.
When Brady’s scandal exposed his vulnerability, a pair of unscrupulous power brokers plots to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center. At first, Marty appears to be the unlikeliest possible choice but, with the help of his new benefactors’ support and a cutthroat campaign manager, he soon becomes a contender who gives the charismatic Cam plenty to worry about.
After four consecutive terms with no opposition, Cam Brady has embraced his lifestyle as a career Congressman with a great sense of ease and entitlement…and every expectation of sliding into a fifth. Says Ferrell, “Cam’s a pretty lazy politician. He’s been touted as a possible vice presidential candidate, which shows how high his aspirations go, but that’s only because he imagines the job as a lot of ribbon-cutting, fancy balls, celebrity perks and kicking back. He’s also morally corrupt.”
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Moreover, Ferrell adds, “He’s an expert at saying nothing, with that super-polished way politicians have in responding to questions with statements like, ‘Thank you very much for your concern,’ or ‘I appreciate your carving out 15 minutes of your day to come down here to speak about the problems we all face,’ and then not actually providing an answer. It was so much fun to adopt those speech patterns.”
When in doubt, Cam employs the guaranteed crowd-pleaser “Support our troops!,” with the hope that the ensuing applause will drown out any inconvenient follow-ups.
But even with such an undistinguished record, Cam might have easily ridden the wave of public indifference into another term if he hadn’t gotten sloppy. “He leaves a salacious message on what he thinks is his mistress’s voicemail and it turns out to be the home of a very respectable family with young children,” director Jay Roach reveals. “Suddenly it’s a huge story. His poll numbers plummet.”
“The Campaign” also lampoons one of Roach’s favorite PR tools: the ubiquitous catch phrase. Says the director, “People are always reaching for catchy, meme ideas to carry the essence of who they are; loaded but largely meaningless phrases for the short-attention-span public, that we all seem to fall for, time and again. I’d love to be in the brainstorming meetings for some of these and see how they come up with a winner. For Cam Brady, we went with ‘America, Jesus, Freedom.’ Amplify and repeat. Because these are the words he believes Americans want to hear. It seems that candidates can’t get anywhere now without talking about freedom as if they invented the notion, and they have to paint themselves as the most patriotic of Americans—certainly more patriotic than their opponents, who they’d like us to believe are in league with terrorists.”
Notes Ferrell, “Cam’s big slogan isn’t really a slogan. It’s not even a sentence. It’s just words, like his other battle cry, ‘Cam Brady in 0-12,’ which doesn’t even make sense, numerically, but sounds powerful and decisive.”
“Marty is a bit of a simpleton,” says Galifianakis. “He runs a tourist office in a town that gets maybe four visitors a year. But he’s very happy with his life, and he’s proud of his town. He’s a little weird, too, in ways that are probably better left unexamined, but you sense that he has a good heart.”
Marty may have started out with some good intentions but soon adapts to reveal a talent for treachery that just needed some focus—which his backers are happy to provide. “I’ve followed politics all my life and I’m still amazed by the amount of puppeteering that goes on behind the scenes in the making of a politician, and how the public can be duped by that,” says Galifianakis. “We’re just showing, in a fun and funny way, how the sausage is made.”
As Election Day closes in, the two are locked in a dead heat, with insults quickly escalating to injury until all they care about is burying each other. It’s a mud-slinging, back-stabbing, home-wrecking comedy that takes today’s political circus to its logical next level. Because, even if you believe campaign ethics have hit rock bottom…there’s still room to dig a whole lot deeper.
Opening across the Philippines on Aug. 29, “The Campaign” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.