Watch Fake Campaign Ads for the New Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis Movie

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 7 2012 3:57 PM

Trailer Critic: Ferrell vs. Galifianakis in The Campaign

campaignzach
A still of ZachGalifianakis in the trailer for The Campaign

Did you know that Zach Galifianakis’s uncle Nick was a Congressman? He was elected in 1966 to represent the 5th District in North Carolina. In 1972, he was unseated by Jesse Helms, who ran a highly successful ad campaign with the slogan “Jesse Helms: He’s One of Us,” a none-too-subtle swipe at his opponent’s Greek ancestry. Nick’s nephew has spoken of that race before, and I’ve been holding out hope that it would somehow inform his upcoming role opposite Will Ferrell in The Campaign, which is, after all, about two men running for a U.S. Congressional seat in North Carolina. But the first trailers/mock political ads have dimmed that hope a bit.

Galifianakis seems to be channeling not his uncle Nick, but his fictional twin brother, Seth. Ferrell’s character, meanwhile, has more than a little in common with his take on George W. Bush. The movie appears to pit a well-funded, idiotic incumbent (Ferrell’s Cam Brady) against a scrappy, idiotic challenger (Galifianakis’s Marty Huggins). In this respect, it seems comparable to Veep, a show that takes a “pox on both your houses” attitude toward politics, rather than favoring one side over the other. While I’m enjoying Veep so far, such satire suffers by more or less eliminating the stakes. Why should we care which one of these idiots is elected?

Advertisement

Of course, even such low-stakes fare can succeed if the jokes are good, but this trailer’s not terribly encouraging in that department, either. (“Uday or Falafel”?) A few good gags do sneak in: “Paid for by ‘Yes We Cam’ ’012” is not bad, and the visual accompanying the line “Isn’t it time to give Washington a Huggins” made me chuckle.

As a fan of both Ferrell and Galifianakis, I remain somewhat optimistic about The Campaign, possibly in spite of my better judgment. And the trailer is above average, too: While fake campaign ads are well-worn territory, to be sure, it’s still nice to see a studio deviate at all these days from the standard promotional routine.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Behold

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 6:24 PM The GOP Can’t Quit “Willie Horton” Even though they promise to do so, again and again.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 5:39 PM Whole Foods Desperately Wants Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.