The Campaign Blu-ray/DVD

Monday, 21 January 2013 00:00
Posted in Cult Movies on DVD
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The Campaign - out on DVD and Blu-rayOne of the cinematic highlights of 2012 quickly becomes one of the DVD/Blu-ray highlights of 2013. Jay Roach is a Director who has bought us all the entries in the “Austin Powers” and “Meet The Parents” franchises. He's been over twenty years in the business, as both Director and Producer, with some considerable success. “The Campaign”  continues this good form. However, I do fear for his career: this is a satire based on what’s really going on in the world. For all of its crude humour, the cornerstones of the plot are a savage and totally accurate commentary on what has happened, not only to American but also to World politics and governance.  This is a movie that tells the truth, wrapped in jokes.

Will Farrell is congressman Cam Brady, who looks like he’s going to be able to stand again in his district unopposed. Zach Galifianakis plays Marty Sylvester Huggins, manager of the town’s Tourist Centre, who is backed by Washington insiders and corporate lobbyists, The Motch Brothers (John Lithgow as Glenn, Dan Aykroyd as Wade). Early on, we get to see the actual way lobbying works behind closed doors at the hub of American decision making – if they want it, they will get it, as all those in office know where their next campaign contributions are coming from.  Both sides paid for, hence you can never lose.  But that’s just the start of the humour which gets its bite from telling how things really are.

We see Brady campaigning, telling each successive group of workers he meets that it’s THEIR trade which is the nation’s backbone. His sociopathic behaviour, not discouraged in the least from bonking every Monica-Lewinsky-style supporter who crosses his path, means he gets unwanted attention from the party controllers. Brian Cox, as dad Raymond Huggins is the link between the Motch Brothers and encouraging Marty to run for office. Marty initially thinks this is recognition that his dream of high office may have traction, when in fact it’s more to do with him being considered easily controllable.

As the Motch Brothers put it: “Something you should know about American politics: when you’ve got the money, nothing is unpredictable”. Even Goldman Sachs is name-checked as oiling the wheels of the system to roll policies their way via their campaign contributions – congressmen are always on the end of the phone for them!

Brady is angered that anyone would challenge him, and immediately creates a ‘hit piece’ video against Marty. This ratchets up the battle between them, and means Marty is more accepting of campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), sent by the Motch Brothers to ensure ‘their’ man wins. Little does anyone know that behind this seeming altruism are some huge business deals that will lead to the destruction of the district - if allowed to go ahead.

Brady really goes on the offensive when his PR Man, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis) comes up with a “Homeland Insecurity” campaign advert - designed to ask questions of his rival.  Saddam Hussein had a similar moustache to Marty, which means Marty must be a member of Al Qaeda! Meanwhile, when cornered by Marty in the hustings, Brady comes out with glib responses such as “Support our troops!”, and even admits he never reads the Bills he votes for in congress!

Marty creates a big issue when he uncovers a booklet that Brady wrote when he was eight years-old, called “Rainbowland”. With Marty painting this as nothing short of a Communist Manifesto, Brady now gets a taste of his own medicine.

Brady also finds his credibility knocked in two unfortunate incidents, one featuring a baby, and the other being with Uggie the dog from “The Artist”.

With PR men being sacked and changing sides, seduction of a candidate’s wife, the buying of EPA approvals and wage concessions, and voting machines courtesy of ‘Motch Worldwide Global’, the political commentary is bang-on. There are campaign adverts a-plenty to have a giant guffaw at, as well as laughs to be had amongst the nods to reality. Please be aware this film thoroughly deserves its ‘15’ certificate for “crude sexual content, language, and brief nudity” – not that I expect that to put you off!

Real-world American political commentators of the likes of Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer get in on the act, reporting on the goings-on during the campaign race between the two candidates, especially their not-so unorthodox methods.  Even Piers Morgan gets a cameo to add to the anchoring back into the reality that this film exposes. The secret of satire is that you never deviate too far from the truth, and that is exactly what makes this movie work so well. The only fear I have is that the American audience won’t think that the likes of vote rigging and media manipulation are actually happening all around them, thus considering there’s no need to protest or vote for anyone BUT Republicans or Democrats.

This is a very current theme, given former wrestler and Governor Jess Ventura is currently publicising his latest book “DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government!” across all the media Stateside. In it, Ventura reveals that if you want to waste your vote, use it for a Republican or a Democrat - as they are two wings of the same bird. Change will only come from voting for independents that are free of the influence and intimidation of corporate interests (via the frankly criminal lobbying system). “The Campaign” is very acidic in noting the fickleness of the voters, and their short attention span, some of them not even being able to remember what happened yesterday.

These themes are equally applicable to those of us in the UK, and indeed in most countries across the globe. Even now, following the trails means that we find all the major parties in the British Parliament have the majority of their contributions coming from exactly the same sources (if you want to win a race, have a stake on all the horses). Plus, considering the mess that Labour made of the UK before being replaced just two and a half years ago, WHY is it that so many people STILL think they are the only viable alternative to the Coalition bedfellows of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats?

Every candidate starts an election with zero votes.  What happens from that point on is entirely down to every individual voting for what they believe in, not who they think will win.  As Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead once said “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil”. All well worth remembering the next time someone tries to talk to you about ‘wasting’ your vote.

Where “The Campaign” really differs from reality is in the ending; whilst satisfying and a little saccharin, it requires our stars to stand up to the system.  This system has the teeth to bite back at such diversions from what has been mapped out, which many have found out to their cost. “The Campaign” does, however, provide hope in suggesting that we should all look to take our power back, and that only fear has stopped this happening before.  We all know something is wrong with our systems of government, and there’s never been a better time to acknowledge this and take action.

Maybe humour is the ultimate ‘info-bomb’? Whether the audience will appreciate the factual basis of much of the satire is debatable, but hopefully it will plant seeds, which will encourage people to carry out their own research, and smash through the corporate-owned media’s smokescreen over the world.

Extras on the DVD are:

  • Deleted Scenes

  • UV Digital Copy

With the Blu-ray release, you get these as well as:

  • Extended Cut

  • “Line-O-Rama”

  • Gag Reel

The deleted scenes show many of the cuts were for time rather than quality, and given the lean running time there is to the movie, this can be seen as nothing short of bizarre. The gag reel shows that this was a happy set to work on, but as is usual with these from comedy films, there's not a lot here which will make any future editions of It'll Be Alright on the Night.

“The Campaign” is out now from Warner Brothers Video. It has a running time of 82 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £15.99 for the DVD, £22.99 for the Blu-ray, or get either for less at www.culttvstore.com.

 

Last modified on Saturday, 26 January 2013 14:54

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