- Hannah McGill
- 27 September 2012
Half-hearted political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis
The director of Meet the Parents answers a not-exactly gaping need here: welcome to another comedy in which Will Ferrell plays a particularly pompous and idiotic member of a profession prone to pomposity and idiotism. One does begin to fear that the man’s entire remaining career is going to consist of scraping Anchorman residue off his carpet, cutting it with baby aspirin and hawking it around multiplexes; funny as Ferrell can be, he’s pretty much settled into delivering the same performance every time.
Here, the context is a race for a seat in Congress, contested by Ferrell’s horny, incompetent blowhard Cam Brady and a ditzy puppet candidate played by Zach Galifianakis. Politics, with its generous embrace of eccentric individuals and crazed behaviour, provides fertile ground for both drama and satire – well, it does if you’re Robert Altman (Bob Roberts) or Armando Iannucci (In the Loop) or Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). This effort hits an occasional vein of funny, but for the most part it’s inescapably half-assed, largely relying for laughs on Ferrell’s familiar schtick of delivering filth in deadpan tones. Zach Galifianakis does lift things – his Marty Huggins, a finicky, effete son of the South with shades of Armistead Maupin and Tennessee Williams, is funny even when his lines are not, because unlike Ferrell, he's able to construct characters, not just facial expressions.
The film finds its most sustained run of laughs when negative campaigning intensifies to the extent that Marty’s campaign ad features him adopting Cam’s son, Cam’s is a sex tape of him with Marty’s wife, and a fairytale that Cam wrote at the age of five is disseminated as evidence of his Communist leanings. But supporting performers including Jason Sudeikis, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow and Brian Cox are squandered, and the cheesy note on which the film ends confirms its true level of subversiveness.
General release from Fri 28 Sep.