Comedy, 85 Minutes, 2012
Will Ferrell [IMDB] and Zach Galifianakis [IMDB] are two great tastes that clearly taste great together. I would unreservedly call both of them geniuses (although, like all geniuses they’re not always successful). Both of them (especially Galifianakis) often rely on deadpan, experimental comedy that can turn off some viewers but this is refreshingly open and laugh-out-loud funny.
The gags tend toward the raunchy side but a smart and hilarious raunch. More surprisingly many of the jokes are downright subtle. A hilariously extended wardrobe malfunction is a case in point: it’s effective exactly because little attention is drawn to it. Many in the audience may not even have noticed it and the movie is fine with that. This kind of deft, crafted absurdity is becoming a lost art. You can make an intelligent, hilarious dick jokes; most people just don’t bother.
As a satire of politics in general the movie is a little weak. It may have been a mistake to watch this so close to election day. Many of the gags felt preachy and heavy-handed after being barraged for months with a reality nearly as ridiculous. Thankfully the film is multi-layered and doesn’t rely too-heavily on any single thread. If you don’t like the social commentary on negative campaigning you can always laugh (your ass off) at random, graphically-realized baby-punching.
Unlike most modern comedies it doesn’t let up halfway through to show its “serious side”. There is a serious side (it is legally required, after all) but it’s brief and the funny never lets up. This is a comedy in the classic sense – not a “drama/comedy” or a “romantic comedy” or an “action/comedy” – it’s a God-damn comedy.