Politi-Flix: Camp(aigning) against campaigns

The Colorado Statesman received the following press release from the campaign of the film The Campaign:

Attacks on The Campaign are no joke

Contact: Critic Man
Phone: KL5-5000
Email: Criticman@fake.email.com

Denver, CO; Friday, August 10, 2012: The campaign of The Campaign, a film starring Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermont, John Lithgow, and Dan Aykroyd (among others) and directed by Jay Roach, which is about a congressional race in a district in North Carolina, is aware that some of its themes and depictions may offend the sensibilities of some audience members. We wish to set the record straight without wallowing in the mud, like so many other campaigns.


We are referring to the chatter about how some individuals are interpreting the depiction of two filthy rich campaign contributors. We wish to make it clear that we claim absolutely no responsibility for how some people choose to view this film and take it so gosh darn personally. We would direct those who might be ticked-off to the disclaimer at the end of the end credits — uh, that is, if you can manage to stay around that long — which reads:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. They may or may not be funny, gross, irreverent, insulting, pompous, or repulsive. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental (wink, wink!).

Notwithstanding this legal mumbo-jumbo, so what if these fictitious characters might resemble some real world humans who spend bazillions on candidates who hate government and yet who are itching to become part of it? Why not be proud of that? You should be able to use your largess to remake the country to your own liking. After all, that’s what the Constitution says according to the Supreme Court. So, we would appreciate it if people who are offended by our film would please stop bad-mouthing the Constitution and the Supreme Court, thank you very much.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in The Campaign.
Photo by Patti Perret — © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

And while we are at it, we also understand that some did not find many of the platforms propounded in our film all that humorous, side-splitting, knee-slapping, blowing-soda-out-your-nose hilarious. But those fussbudgets may be surprised to learn that The Campaign is not a comedy. Nope. It’s a documentary. That’s right. We focused on a campaign in North Carolina to show everyone the actual inner-workings of today’s office seekers. Sure, much of what we show in this film is blatantly obvious, trite and downright stereotypical of politics and politicians. But that’s not our fault. Political campaigns are serious businesses; the business of running our country is serious business as any current campaign will tell you (over and over and over again). Instead of laughter, we intended to elicit utterances of acknowledgement, recognition, and yes even gasps, regarding the state of political campaigns these days.

So, you can be excused for not laughing — or at least not laughing very hard. Still, you have to laugh, or you would cry. As we are sure that others will no doubt come forward and cry “foul” at many other aspects of The Campaign, we want to take this opportunity to preemptively express similar non-apologies to anyone who may be appalled or outraged by the following elements depicted in The Campaign:

Unopposed political candidates. It’s not our fault that you get complacent and think that your reelection is divinely bestowed. One of the candidates we followed for The Campaign, Cam Brady (who looks amazingly like Will Ferrell), is the personification of such attitudes. He doesn’t try very hard, the populace pays precious little attention, and he thinks he can get away with…anything. That is, until the Motch brothers (Glenn and Wade, who are the spitting images of John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, and, um, maybe, just maybe, some other brothers who also happen to finance political candidates and movements) decide that they are tired of Cam and fund the candidacy of Marty Huggins (a veritable doppelganger of Zach Galifianakis) to run against him. That means poor ‘ole Cam’s gotta actually run a campaign complete with issues and tactics and speeches and “kissing” babies. You’re breaking my heart.

Babies. Child abuse is no laughing matter. That’s why it’s our civic duty to comment on the way that babies are crassly used for political campaign purposes. These“props” are innocent bystanders, and the fact that Cam actually punches a toddler in the face in super slow motion may upset mothers, parents, or anyone who was once a baby themselves. Our response: Don’t be a baby. Our job is simply to get candidates to think twice about this aspect of campaigning, because it hurts, not only the infant, but us bystanders.

Campaign consultants. Excuse us, but aren’t these folks paid to win, win, win? They can’t be faulted for the tactics they employ — even if that involves helping candidates become better people, you know, helping them to wear the right clothes, look a certain way, exhibit wholesome American values. In short, creating “authentic” fakes. The Campaign glowingly focuses on one such upstanding example, Tim Wattley, a high-wattage image-maker who also just happens to have the same physical and facial features as Dylan McDermott. And, because he is so skilled at what he does and so passionately believes in his job and mission, he is able to dexterously provide his services (for the appropriate compensation) to both sides of this robust and vibrant campaign. We also get a glimpse at the media handlers who create outstanding campaign commercials that help bring the contrast between Cam and Marty into stark relief — we simply can’t be blamed if those commercials allege that the facial hair sprouting Marty is an al-Qaeda operative or that Cam is a womanizing sexaholic. Again, they are all just doing their jobs and it’s not our fault that we happen to show it in its raw, unvarnished form.

Pug dog owners. Far be it from us to pick on defenseless animals (admit it, pugs are not scarily vicious) or pet owners, but we simply must point out that this breed of toy dog did in fact originate in…wait for it…China. So, the fact that Marty owns not just one but two of these critters is worth howling about — and Cam and his team do just that, even though the Motch brothers and Wattley humanely replace Marty’s pugs with other more American breeds (we will overlook that these other dogs originate from (horrors!) Canada and (yawn!) Scotland). Dig it?

China. Face up to it: This nation is emerging as a world power. It may even eclipse us in some areas (although not in Olympic medals, nyah nah!). And why is that? Well, everyone knows it’s because they pay their workers next to nothing and have virtually no environmental regulations. Look it up. Because the Motch brothers seek to construct a Chinese-like manufacturing plant in the district and get their anointed candidate to help relax federal laws and regulations regarding labor and environmental protection is not worth staging a revolution over. It merely makes us bullish on China’s shop(floor).

Drunk drivers. This is another very serious issue. We do not condone this activity in the slightest, but it sure can be helpful if your campaign opponent happens to have a DUI in their background. That we swerved over into this subject when Marty calls the cops on Cam after having a few before he hits the road is not cause to pull us over and ticket us with indiscretions. It’s our 12-step encouragement for drunk drivers to follow the straight and narrow.

Texters of illicit photos. It’s a no-no. ‘Nuff texted.

Truth tellers. This is dangerous territory for political aspirants. Who knows how this can bounce and spin and get all twisted and misused? Best to stick to the traditionally tried-and-true method of campaigning and do whatever it takes to win, win, win. Let the losers get all confessional. After all everyone expects a little resume padding. It’s ok, we won’t pay much attention anyway.

Critic Man, aka Doug Young, is The Statesman’s award-winning film critic who has been reviewing movies for us for a dozen or so years. In real life he is a senior policy director for Gov. John Hickenlooper.