Tag Archives: dan akroyd

The Campaign – Review

16 Feb

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are a match made in comedy heaven. Add in screenwriters Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell (Entourage and Eastbound and Down) and director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers movies and Borat amongst other things), and anything can be possible. That is exactly the combination for The Campaign, a farcical political comedy that had all of the ingredients to be a damn funny movie, but unfortunately it wastes a lot of its potential and it lands in the region of a forgettable, mediocre film.

The Campaign

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is a Democratic congressman from the state of North Carolina who is running for his fifth term completely unopposed. It seems like he has the election in the bag until two corrupt businessmen, the Motch Brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd) enter the picture. They need a sap that they can control to run for congressmen in order for them to profit off of a Chinese company that they want for production in America. They see that sap in Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), who is thrown into the race and immediately bashed by Brady. Brady underestimated Huggins and his campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), and what ensues is a mudslinging political showdown to end them all.

Did you ever have a friend come up to you all excited about a joke they just heard, and when they finally get through saying it, it isn’t even that funny. Still, you give a little chuckle but that’s nowhere near the reaction they actually wanted, so they keep hammering in the punchline again and again until you finally say, “OK I GET IT!” The tagline for this movie is “May the Best Loser Win.” In my opinion, the tagline should just be, “Ok. I get it.” Repeating a not so funny joke over and over again doesn’t make it any funnier. In fact, it just makes the joke worse.

THE CAMPAIGN

 

All of the ingredients for an excellent comedy are here. Well Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis both have shown their talents in many other films and shows, the same can be said for the writers and the directors. Plus, the cast of supporting actors are all really impressive. Well, for starters, the entire supporting cast is completely underused. How can you cast Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow and have them hardly in the movie. The most disappointing thing, though, is how annoying Will Ferrell is. His character is supposed to be a troublesome person, but his accent and the way he played the character was just surprising. Having tackled more difficult roles before, it’s a wonder how he could’ve been as bad in this as he is. Galifianakis carries his role very well and, like always, seems completely in character.

The Campaign did have a few funny scenes, but that doesn’t make up for the rest of the movie. The scene that had everyone talking is when Ferrell’s character punches a baby. That was really funny and pushed the boundaries a bit, and will be the scene that this movie will be remembered for years down the line. But this one scene and a few others don’t excuse the rest of the jokes falling flat. I like the ideas around the jokes and the points that they are trying to make, but the execution is just so poor.

So, as disappointing as it is to say, The Campaign did not hit most of the marks. With such an excellent cast, two talented writers, and a director who’s proved his skill with comedies before, you would think that this would be a surefire success. Unfortunately, The Campaign is a movie that thinks it’s funnier than it actually is and is such a waste of time for everyone involved, especially the viewer.

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Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2 – Review

16 Oct

We all know who to call if something strange ever happens in your neighborhood, thank goodness. The Ghostbusters movies are iconic when it comes to comedy, and for good reason, too. They are a perfect blend of quick humor and special effects driven story telling. Is one better than the other? Absolutely right, but make no mistake, you can’t go wrong with either one.

 

Doctors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Akroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are scientists working in the parapsychology department at Columbia University. After their funding is cut, they decide to go freelance as the Ghostbusters. Their job is to hunt down specters who are giving people a hard time, trap them, and detain them.  When cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourny Weaver) finds out that her fridge is also a portal used by an inter dimensional demigod called Zuul, it is up to the Ghostbusters to stop Zuul and the god Gozer from entering our world and destroying it.

Something that is really great about this movie is that, yes, it is a comedy but it also takes itself very seriously as a supernatural movie. The plot line behind Gozer, Zuul, and the portal in Barrett’s fridge is actually very well written and has cool mythology behind it. I would have no problem sitting down with someone and talking about Gozerians. I would have just as much fun talking about that as I would talking about Middle Earth.

 

Murray, I think, steals the show when it comes to the performances. His whip sharp delivery and dry speaking voice will steal laughter from the coldest of souls. Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd, who also wrote the screenplay, have great chemistry as the true believers of this science and it’s so much fun to listen to them talk in their paranormal jargon. Another performance I’d like to mention is Slavitza Jovan’s as Gozer. She’s only in it for a very short amount of time, but she looks menacing as hell and her androgynous appearance makes her a villain to be remembered.

The original Ghostbusters can easily be put on anyone’s best comedies list. The story and dialogue are equally strong, while the special effects look great but never get in the way of the story. I’ve loved this movie for as long as I can remember, and it’s clearly present why I do. Missing this movie is a crime.

In 1989, Ghostbusters 2 was released with all of the major casts returning to reprise their beloved roles from the first film. What could go wrong? Evidently a fair amount of things, but this is still a good movie.

 

Five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have long since been put out of business. Venkman runs a show about psychics, Egon is a scientist at Columbia once again, Stantz owns a paranormal shop, and Winston (Ernie Hudson)  works with Stantz appearing as an act at parties. The group has to once again reassemble when the spirit of a seventeenth century Carpathian tyrant, Lord Vigo, haunts a painting at the Manhattan Museum of Art. On top of that there is a river of slime flowing through the depths of the city and Dana Barrett’s baby is in danger of possession by Lord Vigo.

The movie starts off strong with a paranormal occurrence involving Dana’s baby, and the disbanding of the Ghostbusters makes us even more excited to see them get back together. When they do, they come out with proton packs blazing and as exciting as ever. Still, I felt like something was missing from this installment. The plot with Gozer was interesting, while I wasn’t too involved with Vigo. The slime under the city is much more interesting as it feeds off the positive and negative moods that New York City radiates. That’s cool.

 

The comedy is definitely not as sharp as it was in the original. My favorite part was when the Ghostbusters are imitating New York City construction workers. That was an excellent lampoon that makes me laugh every time. Bill Murray isn’t as sarcastic in this one and the other guys don’t really get many funny lines. They all seem to be more focused on Murray, which sort of makes sense, but I’d rather see everyone get big laughs.

There are some parts of this movie that seem like they’re jut rehashing the same things they did in the first one. The Statue of Liberty is pretty much the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Strangely enough, this film has also aged much worse than the first. The classic theme song has been replaced with a rap remix that just screams 80s cheese. Stick to the normal song, please.

This isn’t a bad movie. Don’t get me wrong. It could’ve just been better. There wasn’t enough ghost busting and things seemed recycled. Rick Moranis, who plays my favorite character, gets some more screen time and a potential relationship that could have been played out more. This is still a worthwhile movie if you’re a fan of the first and is still part of the films’ narrative canon.

In summation, you got to love the Ghostbusters. These movies are classic comedy films that have, for the most part, stood the test of time. If you haven’t seen these movies, check them out. They can be enjoyed by kids, teens, and adults. They’re a lot of fun and I can’t wait for Ghostbusters 3.