Monday, 9 March 2015

Top Five Will Ferrell Films

Until recently I thought Will Ferrell was pretty much universally regarded as one of the funniest men alive. Since leaving Saturday Night Live, nearly all his films were well received, he was featured on countless magazine covers, and he seemingly had the comedy world in the palm of his hand. In more recent years, however, that seems to have changed. Was he just a flash in the pan? Have the quality of his films dropped by that much? Or was he never really that loved to begin with? I suppose it's most likely a combination of all of those to varying degrees but I've definitely gotten the impression lately that he's something of a love/hate kind of actor.

Even though he's tried his hand at more serious roles (and he can actually act), he'll always be a comedian first and foremost, and I suppose his brand of immature idiocy may well be an acquired taste. Perhaps viewers have even gotten tired of it. I still find his antics mighty chortlesome though, and there's no doubt that he had a hell of a run during the 'noughties' when he and his fellow 'Frat Pack' alumni were lobbing their films out left, right and centre. Unsurprisingly then, it's from this period that all my favourite films of his come, and these are the five I enjoyed the most:

5. Old School (2003)

Although perhaps not specifically a 'Will Ferrell film', this amusing Frat Pack effort still gives him a starring role as Frank 'The Tank', one of three depressed friends who try to re-live their much-missed college days by starting a fraternity. Much partying and tomfoolery later and all seems to be going well, until the College Dean - and the victim of their bullying from their actual days at college - decides to try and kick them out, resulting in an attempt to prove that they are a real fraternity. Although his two friends (Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn) are probably more likeable characters, Ferrell unsurprisingly plays the most immature and idiotic of the three, and therefore gets the most laughs (including the famous streaking scene and a hilarious mishap with a tranquillizer-gun) but this is an enjoyable enough romp with some great scenes, and it's hard not to will-on the hapless trio despite the questionable nature of their endeavour.

4. Talladega Nights (2006)

The world of NASCAR might seem a strange setting for a comedy, and it's hard to imagine anyone other than Ferrell pulling it off, but he does so with apparent ease. Here he plays Ricky Bobby, a member of a mid-level team's pit-crew who is unexpectedly thrust into action in the middle of a race. He performs so well he's offered a permanent driving slot, and soon another slot is open which is filled by his friend and fellow pit-crew member, Cal Naughton, Jr (John C. Reilly). Together the 'Shake and Bake' pair are dominant. That is, until French ex-F1 driver, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), arrives and it all starts to go wrong. It's a slightly odd film really, in that none of the characters are particularly likeable (except Amy Adams' Susan... *swoon*), and some of the jokes are bordering on the offensive (I thought homophobic jokes were off the table these days), but it still manages to be very funny for most of its run-time thanks to the sheer ridiculousness of many of the scenes (Ricky thinking he's paralysed, for example). Much more enjoyable that it probably should be...

3. Step Brothers (2008)

And the Ferrell/Reilly pairing proved such in a hit in Talladega Nights that they soon teamed up again, this time with a far more obviously funny premise - they play Brennan and Dale - lazy, spoilt, immature middle-aged men who still live with their mother/father respectively. And when their parents meet and fall for each other, they move in together making Brennan and Dale step-brothers - ones who instantly hate each other, obviously. After several destructive fights, however, it's not long before they realise they're actually best friends! They were bad enough on their own though, and their combined antics soon drive their parents to despair. Appreciation of this film is largely dependant on how amusing you find moronic adults acting like children I suppose, but for many of us that's very amusing, thanks almost solely to Ferrell and Reilly's performances. Aside from the fights, highlights include their attempts to build their own bunk-beds, their job interviews, and the music video they make (Boats 'n Hoes). It's all very silly and unashamedly juvenile but that's part of the appeal if you ask me.

2. Blades of Glory (2007)

I've often found that this is one of the least appreciated Ferrell films but I'm not sure why. It stars Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) along with Ferrell as rival figure skaters, one of whom is an angelic former child prodigy groomed all his life for success, and the other is a sex-addicted, foul-mouthed 'bad boy' (I'll leave you to figure out which is which) who, upon getting into a fight during a medal ceremony, both get banned from competition for life. That is, until they find a loophole that allows them to compete as a pair. The only problem is - they hate each other. Can they not kill each other for long enough to win that coveted gold medal? It doesn't really matter with a film like this - all the laughs come from their constant bickering, as well as the fact that they're the first same-sex team, and there are a lot of laughs too. I suppose the premise isn't quite as ridiculous as it might seem at first but the characters certainly are, particularly Ferrell's (amazingly!), and this is a genuinely enjoyable film as well as an extremely funny one. It even has Jenna Fischer so how could it possibly be bad?

1. Anchorman (2004)

I suppose Ferrell was already quite well know before he unleashed Anchorman but it must still surely be the one film that has done the most for his career? The splendidly named Ron Burgundy is easily his most distinctive film character too, and he, along with the rest of the Channel 4 News Team (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner) are enjoying life as the top-rated show in San Diego. Until they are forced to work with interloper, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), the first female anchor who's got her eyes on Ron's seat at the news desk. Of course, Ron and his loyal team decide the best way to tackle this problem is try to get her fired - after they've each tried hitting on her, obviously! It's all very silly and juvenile stuff, much like most of Ferrell's work, but the 70's setting alone gave it a ton of potential - the clothes, the hair (moustaches included, of course), the sexism - which is exploited in full. Consistently funny and full of quotable dialogue, Anchorman is one of the finest parodies around, definitely Ferrell's finest hour, and one of the best comedies so far this century...

Other notable films: A Night At the Roxbury, Zoolander, Stranger Than Fiction, The Other Guys
Scene-stealing cameos: Austin Powers, Dick, Wedding Crashers, Starsky & Hutch, The Wendell Baker Story



  1. Step Brothers is ridiculously funny, and I remember once watching Old School every night for a week...

    Seen the LEGO Movie? He'll make you cry in that!

  2. Lego Movie? Nope, haven't seen that one. I assume he just has a voice role? (>.<) Step Brothers is indeed superb, it's my wife's favourite of his films :)

  3. Errmm...Night at the Roxbury? Elf?

  4. Ermm, I liked the five here more? ;)