After helming two fact-based political dramas for HBO in Recount and Game Change, director Jay Roach must have found the opportunity to poke fun at the circus irresistible. I’m glad he did.
In North Carolina’s 14th congressional district, the four-time incumbent is Cam Brady (Will Ferrell, Casa de Mi Padre), a shoo-in for a fifth term because no one’s running against him. He’s seemingly unbeatable because he spouts the same popular platitudes over and over — y’know, “America,” “Jesus,” “freedom” — until they hold no meaning at all.
But after Brady accidentally leaves an X-rated message for his mistress on someone else’s answering machine, two power-mad brothers with millions to burn (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) secretly throw their weight and wallets behind Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis).
Huggins is an effeminate, overweight loser who runs the town’s tourism center, yet comes from a political dynasty. (Who cares if he’s said family’s black sheep? That’s what image consultants are for.) Brady plays hardball; Huggins learns to play hardball right back; and a war of one-upmanship erupts — to increasingly ribald and raunchy results, of course.
Famously, Ferrell has played a variation on this chuckleheaded politician before as President George W. Bush, first on Saturday Night Live and later on Broadway. His Brady is just as dumb, but way hornier and lacking a Texas accent. He is upstaged, however, by Galifianakis, who may be playing a combination of his The Hangover and Due Date roles over again, but with a lisp. Hey, whatever the case, it works.
As with virtually every comedy starring either Ferrell or Galifianakis, the extras of Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray shine most when those two are just being “those two,” making up alternate lines on the spot. No matter your party status, you can’t deny they are gifted comedians, right? Can’t we at least agree on that, America? Jesus! Freedom! —Rod Lott
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• Game Change film review
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• You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush DVD review