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Film / The Campaign

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May the best loser win.

A 2012 political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Ferrell plays Democratic Congressman Cam Brady, who is running for his fifth term unopposed. After his public image is wrecked following a certain promiscuous act, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), tourism director for the town of Hammond is chosen to run against Cam. Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes applying to this film:

  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable: Marty at one point refers to "Lady guh-GAH".
  • Amusing Injuries: After Cam makes a campaign ad featuring footage of him screwing Marty's wife, Marty shoots him in the thigh with a hunting rifle.
    Cam Brady: "Black Hawk down!"
  • Arc Words: America, Jesus, Freedom. Not just the actual words; each of the three debates focuses on one of these words in the exact same order (The first involves jobs, which Cam states lead to a strong America; the second involves religion, with a parody of the Lord's Prayer included; and the third involves Cam being accused of being a communist.)
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted. Marty's family confessions begin with "taking the Lord's name in vain" and end with bestiality and Drew Carey-masturbation.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Cam Brady runs a campaign ad portraying Huggins as an Al Qaeda terrorist. The evidence? Handlebar Mustache.
  • Becoming the Mask: Marty eventually begins to become a vicious campaigner and politician, before he reverts to his more innocent original self.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Motch brothers, though Glenn Motch seems to be worse than Wade, having tried three times to kill Wade and attempts to pin harboring Tim Wattley on him, as well.
  • Big "NO!": Cam screams this after accidentally punching a baby.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cam Brady's wife acts all loving and supportive but the minute he starts losing in the political race, she dumps him and takes the kids with her. Only returning to him to fake being a happy couple in the public eye because the Motch Brothers paid her a great sum of money to do so.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Cam. He's no longer congressman and lost his wife and possibly his children, but is now Marty's chief of staff and helps him take down the Motch Brothers and reveal Tim Wattley's true identity.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The married couple, Mr. Mendenhall and Mrs. Hadenhall, (whose wife had sex with Cam) turned out to be siblings. But they're okay with it.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Marty asks for confessions from his family to prepare for campaign revelations. It begins with taking the Lord's Name in vain, and ends with Drew Carey masturbation fantasies.
  • Brick Joke: The inappropriate song "Azz and Tittiez" by Three 6 Mafia plays during a family dinner at Cam Brady's mansion. The song is heard playing again in the family car as Cam's wife leaves him and takes the kids.
  • Call-Back: Dylan confessed that a biker let him touch his wife's boobs. Near the end of the film, the biker confessed to his friends that he let kids touch his wife's boobs.
  • The Cameo:
    • The dog from The Artist appears in a scene in which he is on the receiving end of a punch from Cam that was intended for Marty.
    • Several throughout the movie by various real life political news anchors. Specifically, Piers Morgan and Wolf Blitzer and about a third of the anchors of MSNBC.
    • John Goodman as the next congressman to be targeted for replacement.
    • Pro-wrestlers The Miz and Taryn Terrell appear. The Miz had a larger role, but most of it was cut.
  • Camp Straight: The performance of Galifianakis, plus the dogs, plus the fact that he had to be proposed to (six times) as opposed to being the one to propose, combined with the broad hints that his wife isn't getting enough of, well, him, the film seems be dropping hints that Marty is secretly gay. However, the lack of a coming out scene, or a getting found out scene, and the fact that Marty is genuinely hurt by his wife's infidelity, might possibly suggest that Marty is just a really effeminate straight man with a low sex drive.
  • Chew Toy: Cam. He gets bitten by a venomous snake, arrested for drunk driving and stealing a cop car, and shot in the leg by Marty.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Cam Brady is bitten by a snake and he jumps out a window and disappears into the woods, everyone inside the church doesn't see him outside and thinks he has ascended to the sky and thinks it is a miracle.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Mitch for Cam.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Cam upon being bitten by a snake.
  • Control Freak: Tim Wattley.
  • Depraved Bisexual: During confessions, one spouse reveals to his wife that he's been having an affair with a waitress from a restaurant. His wife reveals that she too has been having an affair with the same waitress no less. Then they hug it out.
  • The Ditz: Cam Brady, male version.
  • Drugs Are Bad: During confessions, Mr. Hadenhall reveals that he's been running a meth lab out of his own children's tree fort.
  • Eagleland: Cam's mantra is "Murika, Jesus, and freedom".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Cam withdraws, Marty wins, and justice is done. After many terrible ads.
  • Election Day Film: This is one of the central tropes of this movie.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Marty was called "Tickleshits" in high school. He shits when you tickle him enough.
  • Embarrassing Voicemail: Cam accidentally leaves a sexually explicit message on the machine of a conservative Christian family.
  • Experimented in College: Cam claims to have done this.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Cam takes a bite out of a live raccoon while running rampant in the woods for food.
  • Expy: Cam Brady shares several traits with former US Senator John Edwards (Democrat from North Carolina known for expensive haircuts and brought down after cheating on his wife) and former U.S. president George W. Bush, while the Motch brothers are the Koch brothers (secretive billionaire CorruptCorporateExecutives known for throwing millions of dollars around to support candidates and groups that will help them in their fight against environmental and labor laws and taxes).
  • Everybody Has Standards: After Cam seduces Marty's wife and records footage of it to spite Marty, his team refuses to air it on live television as it's essentially porn. So Cam fires some of his team on the spot and runs the footage anyway.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: After Marty rejects the Motch brothers request, he dramatically walks off... Only for him to spend a solid minute trying to get a broken door open.
  • Fan Disservice: A brief close-up shot of Cam Brady's hairy chest as Marty's wife rubs a popsicle on his nipple before he licks it.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: After Cam comes to Marty's house and apologizes and they share a heart-to-heart, Marty calls the cops on him for DUI, and things go downhill from there.
  • Hollywood Healing: Cam recovers very quickly from a Rattlesnake bite and getting shot by a hunting rifle.
  • Home Porn Movie: Cam seduces Marty's wife, secretly records it, and posts it on the Internet.
  • Hypocrite: Reynold holds a grudge towards his son Marty for his effeminate ways. But it didn't stop him from having an affair with a woman who could pass for Dog The Bounty Hunter.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cam's kids put in headphones so they don't hear him and his wife using strong language. The music they're listening to? Goes a little something like this:
    "Ass and titties! Ass and titties! Ass and titties and big-booty bitches!"
  • Instant Seduction: Only a few drinks, some sweet talk and a simple peck on the lips and Marty's wife is ready to sleep with Cam.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Runs rampant throughout the movie, such as Marty using a book Cam wrote in the second grade as proof that he's a Communist, or Cam trying to link Marty to Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein because they both have facial hair.
  • It's All About Me: Cam Brady's wife wants nothing more than to become a first lady and only reprimand her husband of his infidelities because it could wreck his political campaign and ruin her chances of becoming first lady.
  • Jerkass: Cam though he is eventually revealed to have a Hidden Heart of Gold, his wife, Tim Wattley and the Motch brothers.
    • Also Marty's father and brother.
  • Karma Houdini: Tim Wattley simply leaves during the final scene and is revealed to be an international fugitive in the epilogue. While the law is onto him, his fate is never revealed.
    • Similarly, Marty seems to suffer no consequences from shooting his opponent in front of numerous witnesses. At best, that would've been charged as Aggravated Battery with a Firearm, but it doesn't prevent him from continuing in the election and eventually serving in Congress.
  • The Lancer: Mitch to Cam, until the sex tape. And at the end, Cam to Marty.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The Huggins family maid, Mrs. Yao, who speaks like a stereotypical black woman (see below) and later like a stereotypical Latina.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Cam has sex with his mistress inside a port-a-potty. She complains about the smell though.
  • Mammy: Marty's father has a maid who he orders to talk like one to remind him of "the good old days", even though she's Asian.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Because she is not getting enough of her husband, Marty's wife touches herself to Drew Carey from The Price Is Right and sleeps with Cam Brady.
  • Missing Mom: Marty's mother apparently died some time before the movie.
  • Mood Whiplash: Any sadness felt in the scene where Cam's wife leaves him and takes the kids disappears as the song "Azz and Tittiez" by Three 6 Mafia plays loudly in the car.
  • Mushroom Samba: Cam suffers a bad trip after being bit by a venomous snake. Side effects included loss of sanity, fever, an erection and taking a bite out of a small animal.
  • Nice Guy: Marty is eccentric and mild mannered but clearly a nicer person than Cam at least before the campaign starts getting nasty.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Glenn and Wade Motch and their company, Motch Worldwide Global are a thinly veiled fictional counterpart to the real life Charles and David Koch, and their company Koch Industries.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Both the city of Hammond and North Carolina's 14th congressional district are fictional.
  • Noodle Incident: Cam recalls a time during his philandering when he was piled with copious amounts of Red Bull, Jell-O shots and goldschlager. His doctor thought he had Chron's disease. The end result were flakes of 24-karat gold in his stool for a month.
    Cam I crapped gold!
  • No Sympathy: Cam is chastised for swearing in a church after getting bitten by a venomous snake.
  • No Party Given: Averted. Both candidates are identified as Republican (Huggins) and Democrat (Brady) respectively, although their policy positions remain ambiguous. By the end of the movie, both men are shown in a positive light.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone's reaction to Cam punching a baby.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Marty Huggins' father Reynold refuses to forgive his son for the way he dressed at his mother's funeral years ago. It's one of the reasons he holds his son in contempt for his effeminate mannerisms.
    Marty Dad, if you're still holding a grudge because I wore Crocs to Mom's funeral... like I've told you a thousand times, I'm sorry. Mom would've wanted it that way. She was casual.
    • When Marty finally stands up to his abusive father Reynold, he tells him he was aware of the time Reynold was having an affair with another woman that looked like Dog The Bounty Hunter. Much to Reynold's shock.
  • Only Sane Man: Mitch is the only major character who doesn't do anything crazy or have some sort of problem. He's also the only one who calls Cam out for what he did with Mitzi.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators are this nation's backbone!"
  • Papa Wolf: Cam is furious when Marty gets one of Cam's sons to call him dad, and sleeps with Marty's wife as revenge.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: The two candidates get into a fight over which is going to kiss a particular baby. Brady ends up punching the baby in the struggle.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Cam, especially during the Villainous Breakdown he has after Marty runs a campaign ad in which Cam's son calls him Dad.
  • Raging Stiffie: One of the side effects Cam suffers from being bitten by a venomous snake is a permanent erection.
  • Seduction as One-Upmanship: Cam Brady sleeps with Marty Huggins' wife and films it for his campaign as payback for Huggins using his son as part of his own.
    Brady: Marty Huggins can't even take care of his own wife, so I did...
  • Sequel Hook: In a deleted scene, we have this:
    Cam: " Cam Brady, '014!"
  • Silly Prayer: Cam's attempt to recite The Lord's Prayer. Since he doesn't actually know it, he relies on Mitch pantomiming certain words, and gets most of it wrong.
  • Skewed Priorities: Cam cheats on his wife with two women (Shana and Mitzi) throughout the movie. However, she only gets angry with him as doing so ruins his chance of getting re-elected, caring more about the political and financial advantages of being a congressman's wife than monogamy with her husband.
  • Sleeping Single: Marty Huggins and his wife are revealed to have been sleeping in twin separate beds as a result of their sexless marriage.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Wade Motch seems not to really care about Glenn trying to kill him in his sleep. He doesn't die, but still.
  • Twincest: During confessions, Mrs. Hadenhall reveals that she is her husband's twin sister and they're okay with it.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Cam.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Marty.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Motch brothers decide at the start of the film that Cam has become unviable as their paid politician after his sex scandal and make Marty run as a replacement. Only to discard Marty after he refuses to play along with their schemes. Glenn Motch seems rather eager to get rid of Wade, already having tried to kill him in his sleep three times and trying to feign innocence in his relationship with Wattley, putting it all on Wade.