There is one genuine rule of a Will Ferrell film – you are going to laugh. How much, of course, depends on how good the film is. Will has had just as many misses as hits, but that’s not to say he hasn’t had a handful of films that not only are laugh riots, but that also find a way to stay with you long after the first viewing. In fact, he has starred in two of the funniest films I’ve ever seen (SEE MY TOP 2!). His new film The Other Guys (co-starring Mark Wahlberg – check out our Top 10 list for him) opens this Friday and is directed by Adam McKay – the same guy that directed Anchorman and Ricky Bobby. It was a bit difficult finding 10 Will Ferrell films worthy of a top 10 list because some of his films are just awful – but I think I found a good group of movies here.
(note: Only movies that starred Will Ferrell are on the list. Cameos, or short appearances, do not count. Therefore, Wedding Crashers, the Austin Powers movies, etc. are not eligible)
10. ELF – I honestly can’t image anyone else in this role but Ferrell. He is such a big kid at heart and this suits him perfectly. On some levels, the film doesn’t work for me, but overall it is an enjoyable picture that is fun to watch every Christmas. Bob Newhart and Ed Asner fit perfectly into their roles as Papa Elf and Santa Claus, respectively. This was directed by a pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau, and he also does a commendable job with the material. Will’s Buddy is in search of his father, played by James Caan, and the moments between the two of them have a lot of heart – which gives this film just what it needs to be up there with the likes of the other big holiday films that play on TV year each and every year. Rating:
9. Kicking and Screaming - When I first saw the trailer for this sports comedy, I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t one of Ferrell’s biggest commercial hits, so I just assumed it was another so-so comedy. After renting the dvd, I sat down to watch it and was pleasantly surprised. Robert Duvall as the father Buck Weston, goes into competition against his son Phil Weston (Ferrell) when Phil decides to coach a rival kids soccer team. I enjoyed the comedic moments of this film, but what made it work for me was the showing of just how growing up in such a competitive atmosphere as a child, can, in many ways, cause you to be a dysfunctional father when your turn comes around. Also, just because a child’s father is athletic doesn’t mean the child has to be. Lots of lessons hidden within this film. And the casting of Mike Ditka was brilliant. Rating:
8. Zoolander – This is not a Will Ferrell movie…it is a Ben Stiller movie. Having said that, I can’t help but appreciate the insane performance by Ferrell as the fashion guru Mugato. The character’s mission – planning to assassinate the new Malaysian Prime Minister on his visit to New York, so that cheap child labor is still available for his fashion producing. He does this by brainwashing Derek Zoolander (Stiller), because his character is so dim witted. Owen Wilson is also really funny here. Zoolander has a lot of missed opportunities – as some of the jokes fall flat and the pacing is a bit off towards the middle, but there are enough insanely stupid moments that make me laugh and give me reason to recommend the film. Rating:
7. Stranger Than Fiction – Ferrell portrays Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear - narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death. Similar to the turn Jim Carrey took with The Truman Show, Will displays a quality here of being able to pull of a semi-serious role without having to rivert back to the slapstick, silly moments that made him famous. Although not a huge commercial hit, this entertaining film has many highlights. Good supporting performances from Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and especially, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Director Marc Forster creates a film that resonates high on the emotional involvement of the characters. It’s an enchanting film, and a nice diversion for Mr. Ferrell. Rating:
6. A Night at the Roxbury – Every time I see this film on TV – I put the remote down. I truly enjoy this hilarious movie about two brothers, Steve (Ferrell) and Doug (Chris Kattan) Butabi, who want to get into the best club in town, and also hope to open their own club. This began as a Saturday Night Liveskit, and was actually one of the funniest the show had during the mid-1990′s. The script is well written and gives the two comedians a good showcase for their talents. The wide eyed Ferrell steals the show in his first major film role. Molly Shannon also provides good bits of comedy here, and the film even has Richard Grieco in it…yes, that Richard Grieco. The music for Roxbury is great as well. It takes a good actor to not crack up while filming comedic scenes – and this film must have been real difficult for Kattan and Ferrell. Rating:
5. The Other Guys – check out my review at http://www.tailgate365.com/2010/08/ferrell-and-wahlberg-make-the-other-guys-the-best-comedy-of-the-summer/
4. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby – Adam McKay and Will Ferrell struck gold with our #1 film and proved to be a great actor/director combination. What Ricky Bobby also accomplished was the unlikely comedic pairing of Will with John C. Reilly. Brilliant casting! Will actually makes you believe he could be a race car driver – the haircut, the accent…it’s all there. The story allows Reilly to show us a side of him not yet seen up until that point. Ferrell proves yet again that no comedic actor in the business does ‘sports’ comedies better than him. Yes, it’s over the top – but that’s the point. Several elements of the film resemble the life of a stock car driver, even if many more of them couldn’t be further from that life. Sacha Baron Cohen also provides to be memorable opposition to Ferrell’s Ricky. Amy Adams also does a fine job as Ricky’s love interest, Susan, as does Gary Cole as Ricky’s distant father. McKay shows a knack for filming action sequences, as the race scenes are realistic. The ‘family eating dinner’ scenes are some of the funniest you’ll ever see…’Baby Jesus’. Rating:
3. Old School – Before director Todd Phillips struck gold with The Hangover, he directed this film about three men who are disenchanted with life and try to recapture their college days. The perfect comedic combination – Vince Vaughn as Beanie Campbell, Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, and Ferrell as Frank Ricard. The idea behind this funny film is so simple, but yet so brilliant at the same time. Who wouldn’t want to see these guys trying to relive their glory days? It’s a comedy that’s reminiscent of Animal House, due to it’s crude nature and subject matter. To this day, Ferrell’s streaking scene is one of most hilarious moments of any comedy in recent memory. Rumor is that a sequel may happen one day – let’s hope so. We could use some more ‘Frank the Tank. Rating:
2. Step Brothers – OK. This was a tough one for me. Since I’ve been doing these top 10 lists, no decision has been more difficult than whether or not Step Brothers or Anchorman would be Will Ferrell’s best film to date. The runner up is so worthy of the top spot, but the reason Step Brothers lands at #2 – it’s just as funny as Anchorman, but just not quite as memorable. John C. Reilly joins Ferrell again in the film that solidified their comedic union and proved that Ricky Bobby was no fluke. Funny thing about this film is that there are people out there in the world like Dale and Brennan. Older men who just can’t seem to ever grow up, for whatever reason. One of them is trouble enough, but putting two of them together in one house is, well, just insanity. Add some other great characters to the mix- there is a whole gang of them – and you have what I considered to be the best comedy of 2008. Adam McKay was back to direct Ferrell and Reilly, and Will even had a hand at writing the screenplay – which was incredibly funny. I saw this film 3 times when it came out a couple of years ago – and every now and then I will pop it in the dvd player again. Never gets old. Extremely memorable bantering back and forth consistently between Ferrell and Reilly keeps the film from ever getting dull. Rating:
1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – The introduction of Steve Carrell, the evolution of Paul Rudd, and the birth of one of the best comedies – ever – Anchorman. Why is it #1? Many reasons. Let’s start with the memorable characters. Paul Rudd’s Brian Fantana. Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland. David Koechner’s Champ Kind. Christina Applegate’s (by far, her best role) Veronica Corningstone. And of course, Will Ferrell’s best character to date – Ron Burgundy. Then there are the memorable scenes. The news teams battle in the back alley, which featured a Spanish Ben Stiller, a very upset Vince Vaughn (as Wes Mantooth), and an armless Luke Wilson. The fight between Veronica and Ron in the newsroom – brilliant. The great cameo from Jack Black as the biker who kicks Ron’s dog off of the bridge. Brian Fantana’s ‘Sex Panther’…and the list goes on and on. One of the rare comedies that has everything. Brilliant writing (yes, Will actually helped write this one too), wonderful pacing and direction from Adam McKay, and some of the best comedic performances ever put together in one motion picture. Ron Burgundy is a character that you will never forget once you witness him. He’s quirky, yet in some ways, classy cool as San Diego’s top rated newsman during the 1970′s. If you haven’t had a chance to see this one yet, I highly recommend putting it at the top of your must see list. Rating:
Will has Megamind coming out in November, which is an animated film that also features the voices of Brad Pitt and Tina Fey. And next year, a possible return to a more serious role in the drama Everything Must Go. There are sequel possibilities for Old School and Step Brothers down the road, although, the eagerly awaited Anchorman sequel appears to be dead in the water.
Will Ferrell has had some duds (he should have never been in Bewitched – actually, that should have never been made), but his true hit comedies are the types of films that will stand the test of time. When you find yourself remembering quotes from film characters, that’s the true definition of ‘memorable’. To quote Ron Burgundy…’And I’m Ron Burgundy…go f*#k yourself San Diego’.