Normally, political satire needs to have some real bite in order to be effective. Judged on that level alone, The Campaign is a lame duck. Screenwriters Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell start with generally damning ideas about the far-reaching real-life political influence of millionaire corporate bigwigs like the Koch brothers. But the treatment they offer is glancing at best, never settling on a single target long enough to sustain any kind of satiric thrust.
Where The Campaign fails as satire, however, it succeeds as broad, cartoonish, energetically acted farce. Directed by Jay Roach (Dinner for Schmucks, Meet the Parents), The Campaign takes potshots at two equally inept politicians (Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis), then mocks the dumb electorate that falls for their bombastic campaign rhetoric — only to wind up tsk-tsking the Koch-like Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) for their electorate-diddling ways.
Who's to blame? Everyone, probably. Thankfully, in spite of its scattershot script and poor pacing, The Campaign is generally very funny. Though they might as well be stick figures, greedy, sex-crazed Cam Brady (Ferrell) and his well-meaning, socially awkward challenger Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) are such good soft targets that they're also the sources of several belly laughs.
Because Ferrell's character is the more aggressively obnoxious, as is normally the actor's style, he pretty much dominates the film. Which is fitting, since The Campaign plays out as the kind of inter-related sketch series you might see on Ferrell's Funny or Die website. Though the film's creators waste almost every other opportunity beyond the obvious, The Campaign does at least give good Ferrell.