The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Will Ferrell
Last week, we took at look at the sophisticated body of work of directing duo extraordinaire, The Coen Brothers. This week, we look at a superstar who's among the hardest working performers of his day, and whose work on the screen is only part of his genius.
Will Ferrell's promo tour for ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES will no doubt go down as a kind of performance art masterpiece. At this point, whether or not the movie is any good seems beside the point, as Ferrell's brilliant in-character appearances as Ron Burgundy are already a smash.
However, it's very likely that ANCHORMAN 2 will be another hit for Ferrell, who- in the years since leaving SNL- has established himself as one of the great comedic leading men of his time. From OLD SCHOOL to his series of comedies with Adam McKay, Ferrell is always good for a few laughs.
That said, Ferrell's movies are only part of his appeal. To me, his best work still consists of the sketches he did on SNL. I'm not talking about the well-worn classics like 'The Cheerleaders' or 'More Cowbell'. Those were funny, but his best were often the strange bits he came up with in collaboration with McKay (who was on the writing staff) that often played after midnight. Like the Robert Goulet sketches, or one brilliant, nasty piece of work where Ferrell played a mad-man boss at a travel magazine who threatened his male employees with rape, slapped Tina Fey, and killed a cocaine-fueled/trident wielding Jimmy Fallon while guest host Pierce Brosnan looked on in horror.
As far as films go, the closest Ferrell's gotten to capturing that kind of madcap insanity is ANCHORMAN , which is one of those comedies you can just watch over and over again for its classic, quotable dialogue. It's not the most demented of the McKay-Ferrell collaborations (that would be STEP BROTHERS) but it's still the best. ELF is another gem, which has gone on to become a perennial holiday favorite. I'm actually amazed that one hasn't gotten a sequel yet.
Ferrell's done plenty of bad films (KICKING & SCREAMING, BEWITCHED) but the one I absolutely despise is LAND OF THE LOST. I guess they were going for some kind of affectionate throwback to the old Saturday-morning show with deliberately cheesy effects and such, but the movie was an all-out ordeal. I remember reviewing this in 2009 and being amazed as how agonizingly unfunny it was. It was also a big flop, but Ferrell bounced back the next year with another Adam McKay collaboration- THE OTHER GUYS.
I'd love to throw one of his classic SNL sketches up here, but NBC has always been a pain with clips. As far as his movies go, this is a pretty easy, with the news team brawl from ANCHORMAN being an all-out masterpiece of comedic insanity.
5. STEP BROTHERS
4. OLD SCHOOL
This January, Ferrell's part of an epic IFC miniseries, THE SPOILS OF BABYLON, that spoofs eighties miniseries like SHOGUN and THE THORN BIRDS. Following that, Ferrell's starring in the Kristen Wiig dramedy WELCOME TO ME.