Capsule/Summary ***½ The Campaign takes aim at some pretty easy targets and hits them hard and where it hurts. The film takes a wisp of a Pre-World War II Hollywood-style plot about a naive man thrust into a national election against an established incumbent and meshes it with post-Bill Clinton/Mark Sanford/John Edwards/Arnold Schwarzenegger/Eliot Spitzer/Anthony Weiner/Larry Craig/Mark Foley/etc. crudeness and vulgarity to amusing if not especially memorable effect. The film is presented on Blu-ray disc with solid audio and video, an alternate extended cut, and amusing if slight extras consisting of alternate lines, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel. The Campaign Directed By: Jay Roach Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox Studio: Warner Bros. Year: 2012 Rated: R Film Length: 85 Minutes (Theatrical)/ 96 Minutes (Extended Cut) Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese Release Date: October 30, 2012 The Film ***½ The Campaign is a raunchy satire of modern American politics. It centers around a campaign for a North Carolina congressional seat held by perennial incumbent and serial philanderer Cam Brady (Ferrell). Brady’s opponent is Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), the black sheep of a political family who is upgraded to “dark horse” when the Motch Brothers (Aykroyd and Lithgow), a pair of wealthy kingmakers, identify him as a pliable patsy for their economic schemes in the district. The politically naive Marty starts gaining traction thanks to the ruthless advice of Motch-appointed campaign manager Tim Wattley (McDermott). Meanwhile, Cam, who is not used to serious competition, employs increasingly desperate and outrageous tactics to undermine the well-funded Marty, much to the consternation of his long time campaign manager Mitch (Sudeikis). The Campaign is short on subtlety and plot, never even reaching for greatness. It is long on outrageousness and vulgarity, which would be a pejorative comment if the film were satirizing anything else but modern American politics. Given the outrageousness and vulgarity of the constant stream of political scandals of the last decade, for any film to properly register as satire instead of “based on a true story” melodrama, the outrage and vulgarity meters have to be at hard “R” saturation levels. At its core, The Campaign is little more than a series of sketches in which Ferrell, Galifianakis, and their comedically gifted co-stars get to lampoon various aspects of election politics that would seem completely absurd if they were not so close to actual events in recent history. Other than a few “on the nose” shots at the post-Citizens United vs. Federal Board of Elections state of U.S. campaign financing, the film deliberately eschews views on any particular political issue. Instead, it spends most of its energy illustrating and parodying the perverse all-consuming destructive effect of running for or holding onto a political office. With its “Capra was too sophisticated” plotting, the film lives and dies by how much an audience member enjoys seeing Ferrell and Galifianakis shoot these particular barreled fish. While I doubt I will be returning to this every year (or every election cycle), I did find myself laughing out loud at more than a few occasions throughout the film’s running time. This Blu-ray disc includes the original 85 minute Theatrical Cut of the film as well as an Extended Cut that runs eleven minutes longer. Listed below are the additions I noticed in the Extended Cut. I tried to err on the side of avoiding spoilers, but proceed at your own risk: Small bit of extra dialog from Cam and Mitch when Marty leaves a courtroom. Extension to scene where Tim Wattley makes over Marty's home and family Added scene of Cam in a pool talking to Mitch on a cell phone before the first debate Cam hits on a married teacher before the first debate and Mitch tells him about Marty's big buck Motch Brothers PAC Greatly extended coda to the snake bite incident. Cam wears a hidden camera when he visits Marty at home Extended drunken joyride in cop car Cam and Mitch walk home from a police station and are taunted by Tim Cam appears on Piers Morgan and is surprised by his wife (an excerpt from this scene appeared in some of the film’s trailers/commercials). Extra line from Marty after Tim says they are out of Honey Nut Cheerios A static title card at the end of the credits addressing elements in the Extended Cut The Video ****½ This 1080p AVC-encoding approximates the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 screen. The film delivered a near perfect rendering of every red, white, and blue hue in the film’s palette. Detail was solid throughout with negligible compression or video artifacts. Some small evidence of slight contrast tweaking in darker areas of the screen pops up from time to time, but it will only be noticeable to the most critical of viewers. The Audio **** The film's sound mix is provided courtesy of a DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 encoding. The mix is a little more imaginative than most dialog-heavy comedies, but rarely exploits the 5.1 sound field to its full potential. The lossless encoding provides the expected high music, dialog and effects fidelity for a modern release, and fans of the film will find little about which to complain. On the Theatrical Cut only, alternate Dolby Digital 5.1 language tracks are available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English Descriptive Video Service. I highly recommend that viewers listen to the DVS track during the scenes involving Cam Brady’s TV-MA rated television commercial. Hearing the soft spoken British DVS narrator characterize the on-screen action is surreally amusing. The Extras **½ When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promos presented in AVC encoded high definition video: Warner Blu-ray promo (1:53 - Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound) Bullet to the Head Theatrical Trailer (2:33 - Dolby Digital 2.0 Sound) Proper extras consist of three brief but entertaining pieces featuring different flavors of outtakes from the film’s production. They are presented in AVC encoded high definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio including the same language subtitling options as the main feature. Short Feature: Line-O-Rama (4:23) is the de rigeur reel from modern improv-heavy comedies where the viewer can see multiple takes of actors providing alternative lines for various scenes from the movie. Ferrell, Galifianakis, and Sudeikis provide directors and editors with a lot of amusing choices, and it is fun to see what was left behind, particularly when things veer a bit over the top. Deleted Scenes (15:44 w/”Play All”) are a collection of deleted, extended, or alternate scenes that did not make either cut of the movie. They are viewable separately via the disc menu or together via a “Play All” selection. None of them greatly advance the plot, but since the scenes advancing the plot are the least interesting in the actual movie, the random gags featured in these scenes will likely be enjoyed by those who liked the main feature. I judged one of the scene descriptions was a bit too spoilery as listed on the disc menu, and have put spoiler tags below as a precaution for those who have not yet seen the film: Marty Jumps off Boat - Alternate Ending Cam Car Cam and Marty Talk Football - Extended Cam & Mitzi Sex Tape Airs on TV Crossbow - Alternate Marty Visits Cam at Home [Includes reference to alternate crossbow scene] Marty Door to Door & Chinese Sign Chinese Arrive/Chinatown Congressional Trash Talk Gag Reel (3:30) is the usual assortment of on set antics and flubbed takes. Viewers wondering how the actors can manage to keep a straight face when delivering or receiving particularly outrageous lines will find it instructive. SD DVD - This combo pack comes with an SD DVD copy of the film on a second disc. The SD DVD includes English, Spanish, and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and subtitles. The DVD repeats the same set of Deleted Scenes as the Blu-ray and includes the following promos when the disc is first spun up. The promos are in 4:3 standard definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio unless otherwise indicated: Warner Blu-ray Promo (1:53) Anti-Smoking PSA that parodies energy drink commercials(1:03) Cloud Atlas Theatrical Trailer(5:41 - 16:9 video) Argo Theatrical Trailer (2:34) The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray/DVD Trailer (2:18) Friends Complete Series Blu-ray Trailer (2:21) Ultraviolet Digital Copy The disc also comes packaged with an access code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film. This allows users with a Flixster account to access a streaming version of the film on computers and certain tablets and mobile devices. It also allows viewers with Flixster desktop software to download a copy to their computer's hard drive. Additional viewing options are available from online services such as Vudu which allow linking to Ultraviolet accounts. Packaging The Blu-ray disc is enclosed in a standard-sized Blu-ray case with spindles on each interior side to accommodate the Blu-ray and SD DVD discs. Inserts include a sheet with the code and redemption instructions for the Ultraviolet Digital Copy and a sheet with a code usable for initiating a free 14 day trial of the XBox Live Gold online service. There appears to be a typo on the latter as it says “14 DAY” in two separate places on the insert and “TO ACTIVATE YOUR XBOX LIVE 2 Day GOLD TRIAL” in the instructions. Hopefully the latter was meant to say “2 week”. The plastic case is in turn surrounded by a cardboard slipcover that reproduces largely the same art with different promotional text.