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The Campaign [2012] [R] - 7.5.7



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Two southern congressional candidates (Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis) compete for an office previously held by one of them, and which remained uncontested for years. The ensuing corporation-instigated campaign turns into a war of furiously escalating attack ads. Also with Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by Jay Roach. [1:25]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - In close-up, we see the bare shoulders and grimacing face of a man having sex with a woman, who's also grimacing, while in a Porta-Potty; we hear grunts and gasps, they bounce up and down violently and when someone knocks the door, the man inside shouts, "If you see it rockin' don't come a knockin'." A man and a woman have sex against a clothes dryer: we see the man's bare shoulders and face and the woman's grimacing face, we hear moans and grunts, in a short close-up of the man's bare chest and abdomen we see him rub a Popsicle down his chest and he licks it while having sex (we do not see his partner; please see the Substance Use category for more details).
 A husband and his wife kiss briefly and then lick each other's tongues causing two onlookers to turn away, looking disgusted. A man playing charades acts out an orgasm with shuddering and a grimacing face.
 After a debate, a woman approaches the candidates and men stare at her because her off-the-shoulder dress exposes her entire left nipple. A campaign ad shows a writhing woman wearing bikini workout clothing, revealing deep cleavage, bare abdomen, shoulders, arms and bare legs; another clip shows her wearing panties only while sitting in an armchair with black rectangles covering most of her bare breasts (we see bared shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs) and the camera cuts to her in an armchair, wearing only a man's long sleeved shirt and holding a cigar (we see bare thighs, partial buttocks and legs). Several campaign and fundraising event scenes include women wearing short and/or low-cut dresses that reveal significant cleavage, bare shoulders, arms and legs. We see a photo of four overweight boys, bare-chested, wearing knee-length shorts and sitting on a bench on a beach. Several cheerleaders wear tight opaque panties, bare-midriff blouses that reveal cleavage and bared arms and tall white boots below bare thighs.
 A congressional candidate forces a second candidate to touch the first man's groin when the moderator objects and calls the debate to order; one candidate whispers a crude and sexually suggestive remark about the other man's mother and the other man says his (own) underwear is too tight. A man says (using a crude term) that he will have sex with his campaign opponent's wife and put it on TV; he records the tryst, but his staff prevents it from being sent to the news stations. A congressman calls his mistress and leaves a message saying, "I wish I was eating Shanna [anatomical term deleted], next time, let's lick each other's [anatomical term deleted]"; he reaches a wrong number and this becomes a scandal. A political candidate says during a speech that he fantasizes about women's underwear when he meets women, but that he does not make lewd faces when he fantasizes. A young boy says that he has a collection of photos of female genitals (using crude terms). A man reports in a TV announcement that he masturbates with his feet. A young boy says that he regularly touches the breasts of a biker's wife. A boy says that he shaved hair off a dog and glued it to his scrotum to make himself look older. A woman says that she fantasizes sexually about Drew Carey, as she leans on a laundry machine. A wife shouts at her husband about having a mistress and putting his "crescent roll" into anything he can. At a business dinner, a husband and his wife joke with two businessmen; the husband offers his wife to the men sexually and the woman calls her husband a switch-hitter (bisexual). A man says he grooms his peonies to look like they have a handlebar moustache to entertain women. A boy at the family dinner table says that he let a goat lick his penis at a petting zoo. A high school boy says he started a rumor that his opponent for class president may or may not have a vagina. Arguing over a campaign, a husband tells his wife that a candidate should never have entered her (i.e. had sex) while on a nearby TV we see the announcement of a Sex Tape Campaign Ad. An elderly woman blows a kiss to a younger man, who turns away, looking horrified.
 A man receives several Botox injections in the forehead and grunts in pain.

VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A man walks up to a second man and fires a rifle shot into the first man's leg; the injured man falls down and screams, with a little blood appearing. A gunshot sounds off-screen and a pistol is tossed onto a tabletop.
 A man aims his fist to hit another man in the face and accidentally hits a baby instead. A man accidentally punches a baby in the face at a political gathering, changing the shape of the child's head and knocking a pacifier to the floor; a crowd gasps in horror and the child appears later with a huge red and blue bruise over the left side of his face. A man hits another man in the face to anger him before a political debate. A fistfight breaks out at a town hall meeting and candidate debate; a lot of punching and shoving occurs, but no one is injured. A man accidentally punches a dog off-screen and we see a rubber bone skid across the floor; the dog is later seen wearing a white cone around its head.
 A man visits a snake-handlers' church service and he is bitten by a snake in close-up on the forearm, after which he shouts a string of obscenities as we see a stream of blood from the wound; the man becomes dizzy, jumps through a stained glass window and the camera cuts to the man in a wheelchair in a hospital lobby with his arm swollen four times normal size but with no further injury. A drunken man in a stolen car hits a cow; we hear a loud "moo," and we see black and white splotches on a broken windshield with milk and blood splattering on the glass.
 Businessmen visit a Chinese factory full of dust, vats of green chemicals and dirty rubber doll parts; we see workers wearing facemasks and gloves and we see children in the USA cutting up some of the fabric from the factory and begin to cough.
 Two men show off scars from an old jungle gym at their elementary school; one man has a bicep scar, while the other has wide scarring down one arm, criss-crossing his chest and abdomen and down into his trousers waistline.
 A man becomes a campaign manager to two different candidates, threatening them each with physical harm if they do not obey the agenda he has for them; we later learn that he is a sort of mob hit man.
 Businessmen attempt to sell a Congressional District to a Chinese factory; the businessmen are brought up on charges before Congress, they begin to shout and are placed into custody to await trial. A man has a long tantrum in his congressional office, shouting and throwing things, causing his campaign manager to call him crazy and quit, as staffers look confused. A man argues loudly with his political campaign staff several times. In separate scenes, two heterosexual couples argue loudly several times and the wives leave to live elsewhere. One businessman asks another businessman if they should kill a political candidate, but receives no answer.
 A boy tells his family that he put a firefly up his butt so his flatulence would glow.

PROFANITY 7 - About 29 F-words, 1 obscene hand gesture, 10 sexual references, 24 scatological terms, 21 anatomical terms, 12 mild obscenities, name-calling (weirdo, clown, Hobbit, commie, bucket, odd, greedy, crazy, Rumpelstiltskin, mess, little man, fat, hair crescent roll, loser, gringo), stereotypical references to political candidates, men, women, children, families, Southerners, the Chinese, Blacks, Christians, Arabs, Jews, Filipinos, Iraqis, Islamists, Mexicans, Republicans, Communists, corporate CEOs, 13 religious profanities, 12 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man receives several Botox injections in the forehead and grunts in pain, and a clerk at a travel agency tells his boss that he is "real high" and it is not clear whether this is true or a joke. A couple drinks wine at dinner, another couple drinks bourbon at home and their young son says he drinks beer with a local biker, men drink whiskey in an office and one becomes drunk (he slurs his words and staggers), men and women drink from cups and bottles of beer and glasses of champagne at fundraisers and a party, a woman drinks bourbon and smokes a cigarette as she watches "The Price Is right," a man says that he was under the influence of Jell-O shots and Red Bull when he called a wrong number and talked about sex (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), a man and a woman drink bourbon in a home and they commit adultery (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), two men drink bourbon in a home and one of them becomes drunk (we see him staggering and the other calls in a report of drunken driving as the drunken man leaves), we hear that a man looks better since he began drinking again and we see him drink from a beer bottle and police stop a drunken man who is driving and he steals the cruiser and wrecks it (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A woman in a photo holds an unlit cigar, a man smokes several cigarettes throughout the film, and five men smoke large cigars.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Politics, representative democracy, voting, campaign ads, vote tampering, Big Business, responsibilities of office holders, honesty, adultery, violence, right and wrong, compromise, conflict, redemption.

MESSAGE - The best person can win an election, despite political corruption.

Special Keywords: S7 - V5 - P7 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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