The Perfect Candidate (2012)

AKA: The Perfect Candidate/Dracula's Lawyer (2012) - Promotional Combination DVD Title

(Release Date: October 25, 2012)

Kick Ass/ Take Names/ TAKE SOULS!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!!!

One of the things I like best about Dave Campfield is that he doesn't take himself too seriously.

That's not to say he's not a serious director (or writer, for that matter). He is. He manages to avoid the "independent film" pitfalls of poor lighting and sound and builds and creates his cool stories in interesting ways. On the other hand... well...

Take Campfield's "Caesar & Otto" series. These digital films (both short and feature-length) are well done and clever, but are also funny as hell. With Campfield himself playing Caesar and Paul Chomicki as (you guessed it) Otto, this series of Hollywood misadventures is undeniably silly as hell, but in that smart, satirical way that just happens to work very well.

In the Campfield-directed short The Perfect Candidate (written by Campfield with Joe Randazzo and Sean Steffen) we get a sharp political satire as only someone who succeeds greatly at failing miserably at taking himself too seriously could make. (Trust me... that's a total compliment!)

Why? Well... it stars serious actor Joe Estevez playing Joe Estevez and poking a lot more then "gentle fun" at himself, his career and profile (beginning with his interview with confused casting director Summer Ferguson).

For those of you who haven't experienced the genius of 1993's Fatal Justice as many times as I have, Estevez (as the name might imply) is the younger brother of one mister Marty Sheen and is, (drumroll) the uncle of Charlie, Emilio, Renee and Ramon. He's got hundreds of acting credits, but is usually recognized as that other half of the other Sheen brothers.

And in The Perfect Candidate he knows it. Estevez runs into all kinds of trouble explaining who the hell he is and dealing with multiple cases of mistaken identity. When a chance encounter at a blood bank (the man needs money) with Caesar & Otto leads to his ranting and raving being captured in a YouTube video, events quickly lead him to be recruited by two shady representatives of the "NOW Party" (standing for "National Equality of Workers" party. These two soft-money backers Jerry Gainer (Ken MacFarlane) and Roberta (Samantha Barrios) say all the right things (and, again, have "soft money") to convince good old Joe to become their "Perfect Candidate" for President of the United States.

And if that bizarre premise isn't a humorous enough set-up for you, Joe-boy's chosen running mate is none other than Robert Z'Dar, Joe's big-faced co-star from the 1990 Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fodder known as Soultaker!

Yes... Soultaker.


Needless to say, yet another groovy misadventure is only a banana peel slip down the plotline away.

What works so well about The Perfect Candidate is that the short film IS chock full of hilarious references to movies and politics... but it doesn't rely on either of these to be coherent. Both Estevez and Z'Dar make references to Soultaker more than once, but these digs are subtle enough to be crack-ups without interrupting the plot to allow either of them to turn to the camera and wink. Such rapid-fire funny continues in its subtle way as Estevez asks why his brother (the "acting President") wasn't chosen and in his mentioning of his "Jackass Nephew" from Mars.

As a political satire, it works just as well for the informed and quick witted. Many of the bits may be missed by casual fans, but these don't rely on obscurity to be funny, either. If you miss the joke, you'll find a lot to love in the humorous whole. If you GET the joke, you might feel like Campfield and company are in your head, pushing all of your obscure reference buttons and connecting all the wires from brain-pan to funnybone.

It helps that the film is also well acted. What could have been a ridiculous, slapstick farce instead evolves into a sharp and self-aware comedy with Estevez and Z'Dar coming off as natural and realistic in a world where everyone around them has somehow turned into a rascally cartoon character. Still, they occasionally are pulled into the mess and reminded that they are less the "Straight Men" in this piece than they are a couple of hapless "Inspector Clouseaus" against a strange landscape just a little bit crazier than they are.

Campfield and Chomicki are likewise hilarious in their delivery. Campfield's bumbling Caesar is the kind of character a lesser actor/ director might mess up. He's the goofy comic relief in an already comical film that somehow manages to avoid becoming a superfluous stock character. Sure Caesar and Otto are both silly guys, delivering silly one liners with stupid results, but their antics are so expertly executed that at no point would an intelligent viewer make the mistake of thinking that Campfield and Chomicki are silly or stupid themselves.

This, my friends, is what makes The Perfect Candidate a success and a short film worth watching. It's a cast and crew that is having a really good time. They're all smart, but aren't smugly patting themselves on the back for being more clever than they think their viewers are. They're not afraid to be obscure in their jokes, but have enough material to keep the story going smartly for those who don't get the political gags, the Hollywood references or both. They're not afraid to be silly but they also maintain sharp and timely delivery so that they consistently hit the mark they're aiming at and avoid the audience confusing this flavor of farce with stupidity. Four Stars out of Five for Dave Campfield's fun and funny political short! It's timely for the election season and well worth the time to watch. It's a film that could only be made by people having a great time, not taking themselves too seriously. The lack of pretention with this kind of comedy makes The Perfect Candidate worth its weight in laughs.

Yes, folks, as you can see, I've upped my standards. Up yours. See you in the next reel.

Click HERE for more reviews.
And let's DRINK to the Hard Working People!

Perfect Candidate (2011)
reviewed by J.C. Macek III
Who has already mailed in his ballot... or else he might just have to get behind the Estevez/ Z'Dar ticket!
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I have managed to piss EVERYONE off today. So, preemptively... Fuck You!
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