zach galifianakis (the campaign)

Zach Galifianakis in a scene from ‘The Campaign.’

*Race baiting, idiocy and pure madness abound in the upcoming uproariously hilarious political satire, “The Campaign,” with Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, and director Jay Roach. If anyone thinks it’s that outlandish, just take a look at the current political system. To wit, reference is made to the disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner who has the audacity to contemplate running again. If he did, there would be idiots who would vote for him.

Recently, cast members and the director were at the Crosby Hotel in New York to promote the “The Campaign” (opening Friday, 08-10-12, in North America). Since the movie made so many poignant points, The Film Strip asked Galifianakis if he thought it would bring voters and politicians to their senses?

“No, never,” asserted. “It was a nice run, this country [Laughs]. We tried.” Continuing on a more serious note, he says, “You would hope that somebody would. I don’t know if 17-year-olds really pay attention to this kind of thing. That would be kind of nice if it caused a conversation between mall rats that usually don’t talk politics. That would be nice, yeah.”

Zach, did you draw upon any previous characters for your role?
ZG: I have been doing this character since high school but he was called the effeminate racist. It was kind of a character I would perform for my dad and then through the years I just kind of did it at clubs here and there and then he got to be in a movie with Will Ferrell, so that’s pretty exciting. As far as drawing on political figures, not really. He didn’t need to draw on any kind of political figures because he didn’t know what he was doing in the first place. So the more naïve he was the better I think.

Do you think this film is even harsh enough on most of our politicians and have you ever been involved in a political campaign?
ZG: I think you’re right; they do deserve to be beaten up a lot. I don’t know if this movie is probably the format to do it but yes, I agree with you. And I was a volunteer for the Michael Dukakis campaign with my brother and we cold called people in North Carolina. I would say “My name is Zach Galifianakis, I’m calling about Michael Dukakis.” It just sounded like a sentence about two dinosaurs.

What was your favorite part that showed the absurdity of these politicians?
ZG: I like when the debates get a little dumb and the crowd gets a little dumb [where] the masses just get as ridiculous as the candidates in some of the debates. I’ve always thought that kind of en masse thinking is really kind of funny to me and it’s funny how we as a society can be so manipulated by the media and get behind things without giving it a ton of thought. I think that’s really funny.

I’m glad that you didn’t let us the people off the hook, because sometimes it’s the voters that have made compromise a dirty word in Washington.  Your uncle was one of the first Greek-American congressman, what was that campaign like?
ZG: When my uncle ran, he was a congressman, and then he ran for senate against Jesse Helms in North Carolina. That race is actually studied in political science classes because it was one of the first of the really heavy modern mudslinging and using race baiting. Jesse Helms was losing in 1972 to my uncle, who had the same last name, and dark skin. In the last two weeks of the election Jesse Helms came up with a slogan that said, ‘Vote for Jesse, He’s One of Us,’ and it changed [the outcome]. So I grew up having my uncle tell me stories about the dirty politics of it all.

The hair is almost a character within itself. Who did you try to represent or look like?
ZG: Al Sharpton.

Next week -  The Film Strip continues our look at “The Campaign” with an exclusive interview with Will Ferrell.

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’ continues in its tradition

Scene from ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’

During his summer vacation `Wimpy Kid’ Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), the protagonist in the hugely successful book series, concocts a big lie in the latest film to keep him from working at his father’s office during the summer. It backfires and he is in the doghouse for most of the summer. Gordon, Robert Capron who plays best friend, Rowley and the author Jeff Kinney made a pit stop at the Andaz Hotel in New York City.

How would you each explain the movies’ success?
Zachary Gordon: For me I personally think it’s popular because everyone can really relate to the situations that Greg goes through, but in a different way. No one’s family is exactly like Greg’s but we all have a sense of the mom that cares but sometimes makes the wrong decisions. The dad who wants to hang out with his children but is uncomfortable, and obviously the children, they wanna be popular and cool. And if they hang out with their parents, it’s somewhat a little bit weird when they go through the teenage years. I mean, it’s definitely something that everyone can relate to and I think that’s why they are mainly so popular. Everyone can always have a good laugh thinking about if this ever happened to me.

Jeff Kinney:  I think kids are responding to the humor and to the cartoon drawings in the book, but what I really like about the movies is that they are sort of a throwback. It’s actually very rare nowadays to have a movie that’s aimed at kids and families that’s not computer generated and it’s not 3D. Real actors play these roles and these guys really bring the characters to life.

Robert Capron:  I agree with that because part of it is the fact that there’s no CG, there’s nothing like that and when you read the books you actually feel like it’s a diary written by some kid and I think that also influences how realistic it feels.

Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at thefilmstrip@gmail.com