(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 1 September 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article599002.ece)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Baker, Katherine LaNasa, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox
Director: Jay Roach
Rating: 4 stars
It’s the race for the Republican seat to Congress. It’s the veteran vs. the underdog. It’s set in North Carolina. It stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. And it’s directed by the man who gave us the Austin Powers films and the Meet the Parents series. Need I say more? Yes, there’s blasphemy. There’s innuendo. There’s satire. There’s swearing. A lot of all of it.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis return to their roots in North Carolina to play the ambitious politician and the accidental wildcard. If it weren’t for the Motch brothers, Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade (Dan Aykroyd), Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) would have made it to Washington DC a fifth time unopposed, and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) would have gone on trying unsuccessfully to impress his father and please his wife (who fantasises about Drew Carey). But the Motch brothers decide to double the profits they have just doubled. And this will require them to get a controversial legislation enacted in their state.
It takes them a while to figure out that the best man for this would have been the sneaky Cam Brady. And they never figure out that even better would have been the smooth Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott). So, they coax Huggins into a career in politics. Huggins believes he was prepped for politics by his father (Brian Cox), whose advice was, “Don’t say anything bad about the Jews; and tell a funny story.”
With a healthy dose of eccentric humour (mostly centred on Huggins Senior’s housekeeper) and an unhealthy dose of slapstick, the film is so over-the-top, you simply have to laugh with it. It takes digs at everything from contemporary politics to pop culture (even Uggie the Dog isn’t spared.) When the scriptwriters run out of dialogue, they get creative with coital imagery.
The supporting cast is excellent. Jason Sudeikis has a dumb charade routine involving The Lord’s Prayer that nearly outdoes David Armand’s deaf Karaoke version of Natalie Imbuglia’s Torn. And Dylan McDermott, in possibly the first non-serious role I’ve seen him play, is brilliant. He lives his character, down to a hilarious stunt involving a mobile phone and a stripper.
The movie is rather overstated – I mean, we get that a guy’s a geek without his having to say “intestinal fortitude”. But that finds a foil in blink-and-you-miss-it shots. Watch out for the close-up of the voting machine – this turns out to be key in the result of the election. Disappointingly, the film hinges on small-town goodness and character, like family comedies are wont to do. But the language makes it clear this is no outing for the pack, and while it does have sappy parts, they’re saved by perfectly-timed comic relief.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for mindless laughs, you could do worse than go to this motormouth comedy.