This article is part of The Daly Planet Presents: The Twelve Days Of Christmas Movies, a daily series leading up to Christmas Eve 2015. To see all other entries click here.
I have a bone to pick with Will Ferrell. Not a big bone, but definitely a bone. This article gives me an opportunity to bring up a topic I have been mulling over in my head for the past few years. The topic or question, rather, goes as follows. Is Will Ferrell still funny?
Boom! I know, right? Deep stuff. The short answer is yes, Will Ferrell is definitely still a funny human being. In fact, he’s one of my all time favorite comedians when it comes to film. He’s one of those famous people I would definitely put on my top 10 list of celebs you would want to sit down and have a meal with. The guy can literally stare at a water glass for 5 minutes and make crack me up. He waves down a waiter while we eat and asks for a refill? Still laughing. Asks me a serious question about my life? Still trying not to chuckle while I attempt to answer. So in what context am I asking this question? Well, I just find it hard to believe that an actor/comedian as well known and accomplished as him has plateaued and sits in a chair labeled “typecast” on back.
These days his movies, in my honest opinion, are pretty hit or miss. I recall from around 2001 to 2008 there was (mostly) not a movie that he could make that I didn’t like. However, it became clear to me around the time Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby that Hollywood would milk this guy using some his most famous personas (George W. Bush in this case) in many of his movies. Look, everyone is a fan of Ferrell’s Bush impression, but is it really necessary to use it in 3 or 4 movies for characters that could easily be approached a little differently? I don’t think so. But, what if he’s in as a small cameo? Well, some of his funniest clips come out in short spurt cameos in many big movies, so to me that doesn’t matter. Screen time is screen time.
Actors these days can ride the movie gauntlet from a potential Oscar nom to a quick paycheck, but in the end they do this for a living and they love it so who I am to judge. Still, why stop at playing a dumbass redneck racecar driver that is the exact same comedy bit as an imitation of our former president on a famous late night show you did for years? Putting myself in the same shoes, if i strike it big in wealth and influence with one or two classic comedies, I’m probably enjoying the ride but at the same time I would hope!… I would hope that I consider the result of each movie and attempt to expand my horizons a bit. And it’s not to say he didn’t do it, but at certain point I started to think “I know this guy can make some better movies”. So can we blame Elf for that? or Old School? or even Stranger than Fiction; a movie I consider to be pleasantly underrated? Sure. Whether you’re in comedies or dramas once you make one or two hits, naturally you’ll be held to a higher standard.
But that’s what I want, ya know? I like the transformative Ferrell facial movements or the quiet and awkward but hilarious conversations he brings to life in his movies. Elf is just that. It’s a fun, silly, heartwarming movie that makes me feel good and appreciate those that love you every time I watch, not to mention makes me laugh literally every few minutes. Old School and Step Brothers are two popular but excellent movies that I just thought were executed perfectly. One may be more stupid than the other, but it owns the shit out of it with some unforgettable dialogue and classic sequences like just about every dinner scene in the movie.
So to have a bit of fun I’ll illustrate my point in some clips below of when I see the “good” Will Ferrell I know and love. These 3 movies are just my personal choices, and I picked 3 of my favorites I could generally watch multiple times over the years.
But first, let’s show the WORST Will Ferrell movies so all of you can see what I am referring to…
It’s Christmas! Let’s just stick to stuff I enjoy for now. I will, however, place a quick naughty list for 3 Will Ferrell movies that I feel mayyybe we would have been better off without.
1. Blades of Glory (reminds me of some of his cameos – could have been an interesting character with more thought, but without this terrible plot)
2. Bewitched (just stop)
3. Kicking & Screaming (paycheck I’d imagine. At least he got to meet Mike Ditka!)
And now to the good stuff! Below are just a few clips that really make me appreciate what he brings to big screen.
Stranger Than Fiction
Here you can see his heartfelt and soft spoken realization as he is confronted with the most dreaded fact all humans have to face some day, death. Ferrell plays this character exactly the way I imagine a normal single grownup to act going through this bizarre meta life ordeal. I’d like to see more of this and I know he has it in to pick up more original scripts like this.
This scene is a great example of how one’s face is enough to get the audience engaged and chuckling in the movies first 10 minutes. I think it’s great way transitioning slowly from a hilarious intro with Luke Wilson to setting up the friendship dynamic between these three. But notice how Vince Vaughn is mostly talking here, and while he speaks all I’m watching is every minute reaction and facial expression Ferrell shows us as he awaits his inevitably doomed marriage.
And last but surely not the least, we have Elf. There are honestly just too many to choose from. I really wanted to find the scene where Buddy calls his mom from the kitchen scared and worried about the noise coming from what turns out to be the building’s heating system, but sadly I could not find it on YouTube. Still, there are so many classic scenes in this movie and Will Ferrell hits a homerun with expert timing as he he gives us a hilarious approach of how a “new world” would look to an outsider with only the best intentions. This movie, like the others I mention above make me laugh hysterically, but they also make me feel something, which is what movies should do.
So Mr. Ferrell, keep on doing what you’re doing. You’ll always make me laugh no matter what, but I hope you continue to slowly push your acting limits, evolving your style and approach to unknown comedic territory and provide us with some more not so run-of-mill classics. Consider this my Christmas wish!