Film: ‘The Campaign’ (2012)

Warner Bros.

In the political comedy “The Campaign,” the end justifies the means. This is what happens when Saturn – the planet that typically loves to play ethically and by the rules – gets turned on its head.

The bad guys in this movie, directed by Jay Roach, are the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow). Their secret goal is to sell the politicians’ North Carolina town to China for the purpose of building factories and exporting cheap labor. All the Motches need to do is find someone malleable enough to promote a “more jobs” scheme by running against the district’s venal obnoxious and morals-free congressional fixture Cam Brady (Will Ferrell).

The nebbishy puppet the brothers select is the aptly named Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), a cuddly do-gooder family man who’s Cam’s polar opposite. However, as ethical and fervently committed to his town as he seems to be, Huggins turns out to be corruptible and becomes a mouthpiece for the Motch agenda. Dylan McDermott plays a sharply dressed Hades-tinged political coach in charge of bringing Marty to the underworld.

The Motch proposition may be preposterous, and Ferrell and Galifianakis may be over the top in portraying their characters, but the venom behind the candidates’ antics to gain the upper hand ultimately wouldn’t shock if it were part of a real-life political campaign.

Marty’s platform – “It’s a mess!” – begs for Saturnine order and housekeeping (brooms are mentioned). The movie’s not too subtle lesson in the loss and regaining of that planet’s moral high ground is worth a homework assignment.

Rating: ♄ (Saturn)

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