I am one of many kids who grew up with “Saturday Night Live” reruns on Bravo, Comedy Central, E!, among other cable channels. Many of the episodes were older than I was, but I came to love them just the same. Throughout SNL’s vast legacy, it has been a launchpad for many great comedians. Tina Fey, Dennis Miller, Jimmy Fallon, and Amy Poehler have all gone to do film and television, furthering their appeal. Some lesser known cast members have also become mainstays of the comedy lexicon, even if it is only as smaller roles (Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, Molly Shannon, Horatio Sanz). But of all the SNL alum, few have achieved true superstar (pun not intended) status. The list of true great comedians include the likes of Adam Sandler, Bill Murray, and a certain Will Ferrell.
Ferrell was always a strong supporting piece of his years of SNL, starring in every SNL spinoff movie since he joined the cast. When he left the show about a decade ago, a hole was left in the cast that has yet to be filled (though Kristen Wiig is getting close). He was going to start doing movies exclusively. Never a safe bet coming from TV, he started with Old School, a college frat-pack movie that showed the world Ferrell was here to play. And from there it became a blur.
Old School quickly became a quotable movie with the younger audiences, Frank the Tank was his proclamation. Every since, his movies have been irreverent comedies that, when they succeed, are so damn fun and quotable that the originator has become a bona-fide movie star.
Not all of his films connected, but the ones that did the most will always be remembered: Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and someday The Other Guys will join the ranks.
Of all the aforementioned films, two didn’t get me the first time. Either I was in the wrong mood or my expectations were causing disappointment, but it wasn’t until later that I loved them.
Anchorman was a movie that I didn’t find all that great the first time I saw it. The second time, I started to see the appeal and by the third, fourth, and probably 20th time, I was hooked. This was one of the few movies that I watched repeated the day I bought it. Though his bigger quote moments are well-remembered, I’m always a sucker for the second tier quotes. His translation of San Diego, the deleted scenes of his “glass case of emotion”, and “Milk was a bad choice” are my favorites. I rewatched the film this past year and it holds up surprisingly. It’s also a blast to see a lot of the Apatow gang in minor roles ie. Seth Rogen as a cameraman. Great film
Talladega Nights was a different case. As someone who understands NASCAR and knows the stereotypes all too well, I relished the lampooning of the sport. Shake and Bake took on a whole new meaning after that movie. My only gripe is too little of Amy Adams, but we can’t have everything we want. This was Ferrell cemented his leading man comedy status and John C. Reilly as a comedian as well as an actor.
Blades of Glory may go down as a one-note film to most of the movie industry, but Craig T. Nelson was just one reason I love this movie. I saw it in theaters on a bad day, the second time nursing a hangover from my less responsible drinking days, and in both cases I felt better. “Chaz Michael Michaels IS figure skating. Boom!” Ferrell’s absurd hair and Jon Heder’s awkward performance was a blast.
The Other Guys (my review posted last August) was an absolute blast. After seeing this, I realized that Ferrell does best when he’s working with director Adam McKay, the director behind Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and this film. With great cameos and Ferrell playing the straight man instead of the manic one really elevates this film. Of all the films I mentioned, this one is where he chooses subtlety and let’s the other actors have a chance for big punchlines. Of all his quotes, the best one from this one is undoubtedly “Gator needs his GAT!”.
Step Brothers was the last film on this list for me to love. The first time I saw it, I forgot it and wrote it off. My sister walking out of it didn’t give me high hopes for a fun film. But this past summer, I rewatched it with some great friends in Tennessee (ALS- you know who you are) and it was impossible not to love. Like my favorite movie of all time, it hits a bit of a speed bump in the third 30 minutes, but it still generates big laughs from me everytime. This movie may one day become one of my all-time favorites, I like watching it that much. This was Ferrell and Reilly’s second collaboration with McKay, and the first R rating for the boys. But the harder rating allows for a less restrained and more profane and goofy film. The boys’ job interviews in the film are my favorite, outside of everyone saying “It’s the f***ing Catalina Wine Mixer!”. I’m in the process of getting my fraternity to make a Catalina Wine Mixer….hopes it works out
For every one of these fun films, Will Ferrell made another film that couldn’t generate the revenue or laughter needed to make bank. Semi-Pro fell apart; apparently Land of the Lost is a stinker, but I’ll wait to judge that one till I see it. Ferrell has made some truly hilarious films and I love watching my favorites over and over again. I don’t care how many times I watch Blades of Glory, I’m always gonna chuckle and spend the next weeks following it quoting my favorite lines all over again.