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The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Will Ferrell

12.16.2013

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

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.

His Best Performance

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.

His Worst Film

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.

His Most Underrated Performance

One movie of Ferrell's that I always really liked is STRANGER THAN FICTION. It was an early attempt by Ferrell to stretch into more serious territory, and the film is actually quite charming. I was actually full-on prepared to hate it, having skipped it in theatres due to the noxious buzz. Catching up with it on DVD I actually found it quite charming, with Ferrell's performance eminently likable, and Marc Forster's direction being particularly strong. If you haven't seen this one, check it out.
His Most Memorable Scene

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.

His Top-Five Films

5. STEP BROTHERS
4. OLD SCHOOL
3. ELF
2. ZOOLANDER
1. ANCHORMAN

Up Next

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.

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:38PM on 12/16/2013
Ive got to say that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a funny movie. But once Ferrell comes in to play, it crosses over into hilarious. He essentially takes over the second half of the movie
Ive got to say that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a funny movie. But once Ferrell comes in to play, it crosses over into hilarious. He essentially takes over the second half of the movie
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+10
7:36AM on 12/16/2013
Look up his outtakes from East bound and down on Youtube, It's some of the funniest shit I've ever seen. "Let the boy watch".
Look up his outtakes from East bound and down on Youtube, It's some of the funniest shit I've ever seen. "Let the boy watch".
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1:59PM on 12/16/2013
AHAHAHAHHAHH YES!!! I freakin love Will Ferrel as Ashley Schaffer! It honestly might be my favorite character of his and the outtakes are freakin hilarious! "I can feel it down in my plums! Gonna take them to the farmers market! Two for one plum sale!"
AHAHAHAHHAHH YES!!! I freakin love Will Ferrel as Ashley Schaffer! It honestly might be my favorite character of his and the outtakes are freakin hilarious! "I can feel it down in my plums! Gonna take them to the farmers market! Two for one plum sale!"
+2
6:19AM on 12/16/2013

Opinions vary

You're nuts dude, land of the lost was hilarious! And how could you not put Semi-Pro in the top 5?? This guy can do no wrong, he completely commits to any role he plays, never phones it in, and that's why he is one of the greatest comedic actors of of our time!!
You're nuts dude, land of the lost was hilarious! And how could you not put Semi-Pro in the top 5?? This guy can do no wrong, he completely commits to any role he plays, never phones it in, and that's why he is one of the greatest comedic actors of of our time!!
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7:32AM on 12/16/2013
I totally agree with you dude, good call. 1.Anchorman, 2.Step Brothers,3.Talladega Nights,4.Semi-Pro,5.Old School. He can do no wrong in my eyes.
I totally agree with you dude, good call. 1.Anchorman, 2.Step Brothers,3.Talladega Nights,4.Semi-Pro,5.Old School. He can do no wrong in my eyes.
4:01AM on 12/16/2013

top 5

the other guys is definitely better then all of your top 5 choices except maybe (maybe) anchorman.
the other guys is definitely better then all of your top 5 choices except maybe (maybe) anchorman.
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2:58AM on 12/16/2013

Talledaga Nights!!! Hello?

No mention of Ricky Bobby? The dinner scene with Jon C. Reilly would have to be among Ferrel's best movie scenes.
No mention of Ricky Bobby? The dinner scene with Jon C. Reilly would have to be among Ferrel's best movie scenes.
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6:11AM on 12/16/2013
Agreed lol
Agreed lol
2:42AM on 12/16/2013
Oh yeah, Mr. Ferrell is badass. Love him A Night at the Roxbury, Old School and Anchorman. That newsteam rivals showdown is hilarious. I'd say his underrated film is Everything Must Go - a very good film.
Oh yeah, Mr. Ferrell is badass. Love him A Night at the Roxbury, Old School and Anchorman. That newsteam rivals showdown is hilarious. I'd say his underrated film is Everything Must Go - a very good film.
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7:34AM on 12/16/2013
I love that movie, it's hilarious and a little bit of a tear jerker.
I love that movie, it's hilarious and a little bit of a tear jerker.
7:39AM on 12/16/2013
That's what I was thinking for most underrated film. Really good film and performance as long as you don't go into expecting to see typical Ferrell. That would be a good entry for Movies You've Never Seen column.
That's what I was thinking for most underrated film. Really good film and performance as long as you don't go into expecting to see typical Ferrell. That would be a good entry for Movies You've Never Seen column.
8:33AM on 12/16/2013
It really is a good movie, isn't it? Too bad it's not a hit. I even like that movie more than Stranger Than Fiction.
It really is a good movie, isn't it? Too bad it's not a hit. I even like that movie more than Stranger Than Fiction.
9:53AM on 12/16/2013
I agree completely with Everything Must Go. Talk about playing against type.
I agree completely with Everything Must Go. Talk about playing against type.
1:57AM on 12/16/2013
I don't think Stranger than Fiction is underrated - everyone I know loves that movie.

Also would rank Step Brothers ahead of Old School, Elf, and even Zoolander. It doesn't touch Anchorman, but I'd still love to see a sequel to that.

And it was a cocaine-fueled / trident wielding Chris Parnell that got killed by Will Ferrell's Mr Tarkanian character.
I don't think Stranger than Fiction is underrated - everyone I know loves that movie.

Also would rank Step Brothers ahead of Old School, Elf, and even Zoolander. It doesn't touch Anchorman, but I'd still love to see a sequel to that.

And it was a cocaine-fueled / trident wielding Chris Parnell that got killed by Will Ferrell's Mr Tarkanian character.
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1:08AM on 12/16/2013
Don't forget "Everything Must Go." Also an underrated serious turn by Ferrell.
Don't forget "Everything Must Go." Also an underrated serious turn by Ferrell.
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1:07AM on 12/16/2013
Stranger Than Fiction is excellent and really showcases an emotional talent we rarely get from Ferrell (with other attempts in Winter Passing, Everything Must Go, and Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda). That said, one doesn't have to be a Oscar-hungry method thespian to be a good actor. Comic performances are difficult, particularly the timing (and keeping a straight face), and Ferrell has proven time and again that he can make us laugh. He doesn't settle for just playing a version of himself,
Stranger Than Fiction is excellent and really showcases an emotional talent we rarely get from Ferrell (with other attempts in Winter Passing, Everything Must Go, and Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda). That said, one doesn't have to be a Oscar-hungry method thespian to be a good actor. Comic performances are difficult, particularly the timing (and keeping a straight face), and Ferrell has proven time and again that he can make us laugh. He doesn't settle for just playing a version of himself, instead creating diverse characters like Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby who we all remember and enjoy. And he knows how to turn it down too, like in The Other Guys when he was basically the straight man through most of the movie. As for SNL, his impression of Alex Trebek wasn't even close but the Celeb Jeopardy sketches are some of my all time favorites, I always enjoyed his George Bush, and you can catch a never-aired sketch on one of the DVDs where he plays a deranged prospector named Gus Chiggins who is trying to help the Army (I believe it's called "Old Prospector", you can probably find it on YouTube or something). Anyway, I will be the first to admit there have been times I was thoroughly unimpressed with Ferrell's work and that his over-the-top personality often makes him come across as a jerk. However, his resume has its merits and he is certainly entertaining. An interesting choice for this week's G.B.BA Chris. I have already bought my ticket to Anchorman 2, looks like a blast.
1. SNL
2. Stranger Than Fiction
3. Anchorman
4. Melinda and Melinda
5. Zoolander
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+3
12:21AM on 12/16/2013

Awesome guy

He plays an extremely dumb character but he's extremely witty and intelligent, always funny too.

Will's awesome.
He plays an extremely dumb character but he's extremely witty and intelligent, always funny too.

Will's awesome.
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