Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis battle for our vote.
The Campaign is a political-comedy about swear words. Lucky for us it stars two of this generation’s best comedians whose forte happen to be delivering said swear words. It’s unfortunate that The Campaign doesn’t have much to say beyond that because it could have had the chops to be a classic. That being said…swears instead of political satire can be funny too.
With the rise of FunnyorDie.com Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are so Omni-present it’s as if they never stop working. Their tireless effort to promote The Campaign (including a quick stop in Seattle to make coffee) has delivered enough material for another feature length project.
They play a pair of candidates in a Republican congressional race in a small district of North Carolina. Ferrell plays the 5-term incumbent Cam Brady. He’s a booze-hound skirt chaser with a foul mouth and trophy wife…he’s also always run unopposed. After cheating on his wife he accidentally mis-dials his mistress, leaving a less-than-savory voice mail on an unsuspecting family saying grace before dinner.
This prompts the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) – a pair of political lobbyists hell-bent on selling the district to China in a process called “insourcing” – to deliver a patsy to run against the disgraced Senator. Insert Marty Huggins (Galifianakis,) a goody-two-shoes tourism director who adores his nuclear family and hometown. He’s also a hysterical buffoon leading to several early scenes of awkward speeches and television interviews.
The comedy duo are a nearly perfect pairing, mostly leaning on the strengths of their personality rather than a strong script. Galifianakis is the real stand out though as Huggins. For those familiar with his stand-up routine, he plays Huggins nearly the same as his twin brother character Seth Galifianakis, a slightly effeminate southerner who’s so earnest it hurts. Ferrell plays the same stone-faced loud mouth we’ve come to expect recently and is mostly fine. It’s good that Galifianakis brings a bit of reservation though because Ferrell can be borderline grating when given too much leeway to just scream and run around.
Performances aside the script for The Campaign falls short of greatness. It too often relies on obvious gross-out gags instead of going for something cutting or insightful about the campaign process. Sure, those jokes are funny too but do get tired after 90-minutes. It’s possible the writers are on to something though, the 2012 political arena is so broad and idiotic maybe the only way to respond to it is a fart.
What My Wife Thought: Personally I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan but Zach Galifianakis is worth the price of admission.
I’d like my Bourne movie with less Bourne please.
The Bourne Legacy is for people who prefer their Bourne movies with no Bourne in them. It’s as if the studio thought, “The best way to convince the audience this is a Bourne movie is to put it in the title, then we’ll just make something else.” It’s not that the film even deviates much from the original trilogies formula, but it lost the soul.
Legacy follows a parallel timeline to The Bourne Ultimatum in which a separate, even more secrete government organization is running medical “enhancement” tests on super agents, exactly like those in Treadstone (the Bourne organization.) As Jason Bourne (all off camera) pursues that agency he’s simultaneously risking the exposure of the other super-agent programs. Hence a very didactic former Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton) gives the order to exterminate the program and leave no trace of any agent.
Meanwhile in the Alaskan wilderness we meet Alex Cross (Jeremy Renner.) He’s been banished there to train for very opaque crimes. After making it to a remote cabin to re-load his medicine (or chems as their referred to here) and ammo the cabin explodes in one of the film’s most successfully intense set-pieces. Cross barely escapes the blast and a villainous pack of hungry wolves to become the lone survivor of the programs extermination.
A separate plot-line finds scientist/doctor/moralist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) as she develops new strains of chems for super agent enhancement (her lab sort of resembles a Viagra factory.) It’s revealed that Cross and several other agents would come in frequently for physicals and human trials. After her co-worker goes on an extremely disturbing killing spree she is thrust into the center of the programs extermination. When the agency comes for her Cross intercepts and the two of them are off to discover several more inane plot points and exotic locals together.
What made the Bourne trilogy unique was a combination of immediacy, style and a star coming into his own. Legacy feels like a tired retread. Although it’s hard to even characterize this as a failure of the filmmakers or cast. Director Tony Gilroy eliminates the shaky cam that has invaded so many modern action films and frames the story more deliberately. That’s fine but he really doesn’t have a story to tell. The film constantly has to remind us that Bourne exists in this universe while never exploring the one they’ve created.
Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz deserve better too. To me, Renner proves he can be a lead but still is given little to do but ask for more drugs and stare sternly. He doesn’t possess the presence and magnetism that Matt Damon does but his snarky sense of humor could easily carry better material. Weisz is plenty reliable as the damsel in distress but she’s mostly just running, screaming and being saved.
There’s a nagging feeling throughout Legacy that it’s unnecessary…probably because it is. Studios can only go to the well so many times before they’ve eroded their base. Legacy is serviceable sure but it lacks any semblance of originality.
What My Wife Thought: Surprisingly I enjoyed it more than the prior Bourne movies. Probably because Matt Damon isn’t in it.