I didn’t expect much from The Campaign given how saturated the comedy genre is with collective Will Ferrell/Zach Galifinakis content that can be profoundly hit or miss but this is one seriously funny film, starting with the freedom to play thanks to its R rating which is always an asset. Political satires should always elicit nervous laughter here and there and this does a good job of having fun but also kind of subtly showing us exactly how elections work and the inherent, ever present corruption behind each and every one of them. Ferrell is Cam Brady, a dipshit Louisiana congressman with the IQ of a riverbed who is up for re-election and since he’s so far unchallenged, is in relax mode. However, two scheming, cigar chewing billionaire industrialists (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd channeling their inner Looney Toons) are trying to sell out their state’s resources to those pesky Chinese that seem to keep buying everything up so they can develop a bunch of land into sweatshops and turn dirty profits loose. They need a rival candidate that they basically own though, which brings us to Galifinakis’s Marty Huggins, a hopeless but sweet dim-bulb from old money whose rich prick kingpin father (a perpetually tipsy Brian Cox) doesn’t think much of him. A Slick Dick campaign fixer (Dylan McDermott) is hired and suddenly Brady has a challenger in this sweet tea swillin’, double pug owning, piss-ant little character who at first is in way over his head but soon gets a clue and then it’s clash of the brain-dead republican candidates. On paper this sounds like it skewers republicans only but all these people really don’t give a shit about the party ideals they’re representing and it’s clear that this kind of behaviour, cash backed policies, rampant scandals, passive aggressive smear attempts and clandestine maneuvers happen on both sides regardless of red or blue, and no one is off the hook. These two go to great and terrible lengths to one up each other that start with trying to bang each other’s wives, escalates to one tricking the other into driving while spectacularly hammered (and getting subsequently disgraced) and by the time this battle of wits (or lack thereof) reaches its fever pitch Ferrell has accidentally one-punched both a baby and a dog! I’m not gonna lie this film had me fuckin laughing almost the entire way through at these blissfully tasteless antics and appreciating the diabolically satirical script that is the most on point send up of politics this side of Barry Levinson’s Wag The Dog. Also I’ll add that there’s more cameos in this film than an episode of Entourage so keep your eyes peeled for a lot of famous people being super ridiculous. Hilarious film.
I’d love to have been in the studio executives office to hear the pitch for Bubble Boy: “Okay so basically Jake Gyllenhaal is this kid who lives in a plastic bubble, he’s on a road trip and there’s also a travelling freak show owned by Mini Me from Austin Powers, a singing cult led by Fabio, Asian mud wrestling, twin incontinent geriatric pilots named Pippy and Pappy, a motorcycle gang headed up by Danny Trejo, an Indian who drives a food truck serving ‘Ice cream… and curry’” …if I were the exec in charge I’d have no choice but to green light the thing just for the balls they had to bring it to me. Like how do you say no to all that? Real talk though, this film was actually pretty special, and I mean that sincerely. Yes, it’s this kind of surreal, John Waters-esque parade of uproarious and seemingly arbitrary commotion anchored only by Gyllenhaal’s naive, oddball hero but there’s a message sewn into all that madness too that’s actually really sweet and astute. Born without a self generated immune system, Bubble Boy is kept at home in a pristine plastic environment by his overbearing, Jesus freak mom (Swoosie Kurtz), until he falls in love with the girl next door (Marley Shelton). When she runs off with plans to marry a preening douchebag (Dave Sheridan), he constructs that amazing bubble suit and and it’s off on a bizarre cross country race to find her and fix the misunderstandings of their relationship before she gets married. Things get a little… random along the way and his mom takes hot pursuit with his dad (John Carroll Lynch, excellent) in tow. It may all seem like noise and confusion but there’s a real theme of escaping one’s own personal prison going on beneath the surface. Gyllenhaal has left his eternal quarantine and headed out into the great unknown but in a sense each character he meets is in their own bubble of sorts, stunted by belief, circumstance, past trauma or just lunacy. Trejo is terrific as the rambunctious biker who pines for his lost love and will do anything for Bubble Boy, who he considers his ‘Vato.’ The circus show and all its members (which include the varied likes of Matthew McGrory and Lester ‘Beetlejuice’ Green) are a self ostracized bunch who don’t value their own worth until put to the test. Hell, even a cross country bus ticket vendor played by Zach Galifinakis sits resolute and awkward inside his booth, perplexed at sights he observes around him and unable to engage with the world. When mom catches up to Bubble Boy just when he’s about to reach Niagara Falls and wants to yank him home, Carroll Lynch as his dad gets the subtly subversive, beautiful line of dialogue: “What if Neil Armstrong travelled all that way just to *not* walk on the moon.” This is a balls out comedy peppered with delightfully weird shit but it’s also a film about questioning one’s reality, breaking boundaries imposed by whatever system governs you and finding a place in this world, which I promise you is far more strange than anything any screenwriter could ever dream up. Absolutely great film.