The Rise and Fall of Will Ferrell
This week sees the release of the latest Will Ferrell film, The Other Guys. Telling you this film is a comedy is akin to making the Earth-shattering announcement that the theater in which you see it will be serving popcorn. Ferrell has made an indelible mark on comedy and become, like it or not, the face of the genre for an entire generation. I will in no way pretend that his work hasn’t elicited more than a few laughs from me and I do sincerely think the guy is a comic genius. That being said, I don’t think I’m alone in noticing a marked decline in the quality of his work as of late. In an effort to understand this slump, I think it’s important to examine his body of work as a whole.
Will Ferrell, like many comedic movie stars, cut his teeth on Saturday Night Live. He entered the cast during the twilight of the era of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley. To adopt comic book parlance, I consider this the silver age of SNL. I am sure more than a few producers were concerned about the longevity of the show, even in its 21st season, upon losing that lineup. But along came the likes of Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, and a bizarre giant by the name of Will Ferrell. A new dynasty was born.
When Hollywood could no longer ignore Ferrell’s talent, his early movie career exemplified the proverbial mixed bag. It began as a memorable cameo in a Mike Myers' passion project: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. As if to solidify the existence of the curse of SNL properties adapted to film, Ferrell followed his excellent turn in Austin Powers with bombs A Night at the Roxbury and Superstar. But amidst the abysmal SNL adaptations, he also delivered much smarter comedy gold in Dick.
While I happen to enjoy Zoolander, and more specifically, Ferrell’s performance as Mugatu, the film that really propelled his career was undoubtedly Old School. That was the film that showed just enough of his range to convince people that this wasn’t just an SNL funnyman, but a potential movie star as well. He then displayed even more range and heart with John Favreau’s Elf, which has become one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. If Ferrell had people convinced he could be a comedy frontman with Old School, it was Anchorman that made Hollywood realize just what kind of major player he could be.
As much as I love Anchorman, and believe it to be a superb comedy, this success was a mixed blessing for Ferrell and the source of his current stagnation. I’m sure some of you are questioning my mental faculties right now, and I don’t blame you, but Anchorman truly created a monster. As heartily as we all laughed at the blundering, misogynistic buffoon that was Ron Burgundy, we didn’t realize Ferrell would play this same character for the next four years. This developmentally arrested man-boy would rear his head in Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, and Step Brothers.
It’s one thing to create an incredibly unique character and play the part to perfection once, but it’s quite another to beat a dead horse until one becomes a parody of oneself. In the midst of all this, Ferrell did attempt to flex his comedic and thespian muscles with films like Melinda and Melinda, Winter Passing, and Stranger Than Fiction. All great performances, all largely unheralded at the box office. I believe the lack of commercial success for his more artistic endeavors is what drove Ferrell time and time again back to this tired but tried-and-true formula. I also believe this is exactly why he’s struggled of late trying to break away from that archetype. Ferrell’s only vehicle since the last gasp of the dying man-boy persona (in Step Brothers) was the unfortunate Land of the Lost, which failed to deliver, to put it lightly.
It’s interesting to me, and really telling when you think about it, that since Stranger Than Fiction, Ferrell’s best work has been in cameos and internet memes. His series of web shorts featuring a precocious little costar were hysterical, my favorite being “The Landlord,” and his stint on Eastbound and Down was fantastic. Hopefully, the very fragile and meek police officer in The Other Guys will be the role that snaps his losing streak and definitively breaks him free of Ron Burgundy.
The American Pie star was driving through Los Angeles when his car was pulled over by police last month (Jun10).
He was arrested after failing a sobriety test and was later charged with two misdemeanours which could land him a stint in jail.
Klein checked into the Cirque Lodge rehab facility in Utah, which previously housed Lindsay Lohan, to seek professional help for his problems. He signed up for a 30-day program and his rep, Jaime Primak, has now confirmed he will be staying a while longer.
Primak tells People.com, "Chris, along with his support team, has decided to extend his treatment. He is doing fantastic and is optimistic about his future. He thanks everyone for their continued support."
Christopher Nolan has signed on to produce the much-anticipated superhero film and now GeekTyrant.com reports he has asked his brother Jonathan to take over directing the film so he can concentrate on the next Batman movie.
The less famous Nolan brother is already working closely with his sibling - Jonathan is among the writers on Batman 3.
A studio source tells MovieHole.net, "Jonathan Nolan is not onboard yet, but it looks like he will get the job. He wants to direct, Chris wants to land him that gig... That said, it is far from a done deal."
The always entertaining Thomas Lennon is one of those guys you may recognize but aren't necessarily sure where from. You really should know more about him, since you've probably seen more of his work than you are aware of. As a screenwriter, he's brought the masses Night At The Museum and it's sequel, Taxi, The Pacifier and other hit films, and as an actor he's left you hiccuping with laughter in Reno 911!, I Love You, Man, Balls of Fury and countless Funny or Die sketches. Next year, you'll be lucky enough to get a double dose of Lennon as he joins a pair of productions that are currently filming.
First, he'll shoot scenes for 20th Century Fox's upcoming rom-com What's Your Number? The film stars Anna Faris as a woman who looks back at the past twenty men she's had relationships with and wonders if one of them might be her one true love. He'll play one of the ex-lovers, joining Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto, Matthew Bomer, Andy Samberg, Chris Pratt, Joel McHale and others. Mark Mylod (Entourage) began shooting the film in May and will wrap soon, giving Lennon just enough time to craft his character before jumping into another "high" profile comedy.
New Line Cinema is lucky to land Lennon for their stoner threequel A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, which is also currently shooting in Michigan. The film reunites Kal Penn and John Cho as best buds on a nutty-as-usual adventure that takes place ten years after they Escaped From Guantanamo Bay. Lennon will play the suburban neighbor of Harold Lee.
In my book, more Lennon can only mean more fun in a film, so needless to say I'm amped to see these two 2011 comedies. For even more laughter by Lennon, you'll be able to catch him in the Cameron Diaz vehicle Bad Teacher, also due next year.
Rock admits he set up home in the neighbouring state of New Jersey because he can get a lot more land for his money, so he was surprised when his relative reached out for financial help after years of living in the heart of New York.
He says, "One of my uncles called me up for money because he was losing his apartment in the city and I was like, 'Yo man, I don't have an apartment in the city!' I live in Jersey!"
"To live like a rich person in the city, you gotta spend like $20 million."
The comedian was captured on camera trying to share a joke with Bryant during a recent NBA Finals clash between the Lakers and Boston Celtics - and the sports star was doing his best to ignore him.
Jackson decided enough was enough and walked over to Rock to tell him to shut up.
He says, "Phil Jackson screamed at me, man, and I was scared. He was like my dad. I thought he was gonna put his big Phil Jackson foot in my a**."
Pal David Spade, who was with Rock at the game, admits it's difficult to land the best seats at a basketball game and not chat to the players: "We're two feet away from the guys and we feel dumb sitting there because you know they don't like it because every week it's four new idiots from some TV show... It's the same jokes to the players."
Hollywood has always been an insular place its peculiar rhythms largely indifferent to those of the outside world. Nowhere is this more achingly evident than in Sex and the City 2 a movie so staggeringly tone-deaf it appears as if constructed in some decadent biosphere its filmmakers unaware that they were constructing not only one of the worst studio films in recent memory but arguably one the most misogynist as well.
Whereas the close of 2008’s Sex and the City found heroines Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) Charlotte (Kristen Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) more or less getting everything they’ve ever wanted the sequel finds them faced with the inconveniences that come along with having everything they’ve ever wanted. Patrician Charlotte despite the aid of both of a full-time nanny and a housekeeper is overwhelmed by the demands of being a stay-at-home mom to two children while high-powered executive Miranda is too ensconced in boardroom politics to attend her genius second-grader’s science faire (though to be honest the child is probably better off without her around).
Superstar publicist Samantha now 52 her familiar bawdiness nearing its awkward creepy-uncle stage is in the throes of peri-menopause swallowing pills by the handful to boost her sex drive and forestall her inevitable descent into cat-hoarding spinsterdom. And Carrie two years into her marriage with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) a man whose positive qualities are limited to his massive bank account and his supply of clever entendres (each delivered in his trademark dulcet monotone) is frustrated that her husband is more interested in spending weeknights watching TV on the couch than squiring his prized thoroughbred around to glitzy movie premieres.
Wilting under such stifling affluence the four gal pals opt to flee on a whirlwind trip to the Abu Dhabi to recharge their collective engines — but not before a nearly hour-long first act involving a gay wedding which allows writer/director/producer Michael Patrick King to get his fill of gay jokes and throw in a superfluous performance of Liza Minnelli singing Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies. And it’s just as disturbing as you'd expect.
The choice of Abu Dhabi as the girls’ destination is not as counter-intuitive as it seems: The famously oil-rich Arab Emirate is one of the few places on earth capable of providing the girls with a level of luxury beyond which they’ve already grown accustomed. Justice (and compelling storytelling) would find their plane hijacked and re-routed to Mogadishu where they’d be forced into the employ of Somali pirates. But no they land safely in Abu Dhabi where they’re given individual Maybachs a throng of dutiful manservants and a $22 000/night hotel suite — all the accoutrements required to gain the proper perspective on things.
By this point King has clearly lost his perspective unaware of how monstrously self-absorbed and entitled he's allowed his film's four protagonists to become or how their unapologetic opulence might appear to a world still struggling to emerge from economic armageddon. He's too preoccupied with mounting his female version of Ishtar — replete with awful puns involving camel toes and "Lawrence of my labia" and an atrocious karaoke performance of the feminist anthem "I Am Woman Here Me Roar" — to notice how badly things have gone awry and how badly his film reflects upon women.
And it gets worse. Before leaving Abu Dhabi the increasingly loathsome quartet become involved in a mishap that ends with Samantha (now effectively reduced to a walking hormone joke) in the middle of a busy town square holding up a package of condoms thrusting her hips and shouting "I have sex!!!" as the Muslim call to prayer is sounded. Sex and the City 2 won't win any awards (save for a few Razzies) but it could become an effective inspirational video for suicide bombers — provided they can endure the film's two-and-a-half hour running time of course.
While the first two Shrek films scored high praise from both critics and audiences the third installment of the animated saga 2007’s Shrek the Third was widely considered a letdown a signal that Dreamworks’ wildly successful franchise had finally jumped the shark. But that didn’t deter the studio from greenlighting a fourth Shrek film Shrek Forever After with the somewhat dubious assurance that it would be the last to feature the titular green ogre.
The plot of Shrek Forever After in many ways reflects the creative fatigue the filmmakers clearly feel: After fathering triplets with his wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) Shrek (Mike Myers) has settled into a wearisome domestic routine of morning feedings clogged bathrooms and neighborhood pot lucks. But a domesticated Shrek is a boring Shrek and he soon longs to escape the tedium of family life and return to the carefree days when all the creatures of the forest feared his roar. But how? He's stuck.
Or so it seems until a lispy local charlatan Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn doing a solid Paul Reubens impression) offers Shrek a magical “deal” enabling him to turn back the clock for a day and spend 24 hours without the oppressive dictates of family life which the beleaguered ogre eagerly accepts. But fairytale contracts rarely come without hidden caveats and Shrek soon awakens in a nightmarish bizarro world where his family and friends have vanished and ogres are hunted by vicious gangs of witches. Worst of all Rumpelstiltskin has managed to install himself as Far Far Away’s decadent dictator turning the castle into some sort of crazy lesbian nightclub where his witchy subordinates gyrate to pounding techno music.
Call it It’s a Wonderful Shrek — or even Shrek to the Future if you will. It’s not the most original storytelling scheme but it allows the filmmakers to essentially hit the reset button on the Shrek canon and re-introduce familiar faces like Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) in slightly tweaked form. Fiona is no longer a dainty princess awaiting her savior but the butched-out (this emerges as a trend in the film) leader of an underground ogre resistance plotting to free Far Far Away from its effete Napoleon and his haggish minions. In order to avoid vanishing from history entirely Shrek has to woo her all over again — a task made harder by her newfound independent streak.
Fans of Shrek will be happy to know that Shrek Forever After — its weird butch/femme dynamic notwithstanding — marks a definite improvement over its predecessor. That said it won’t likely inspire any grassroots campaign to convince Dreamworks to reconsider its supposed decision to retire the character for good. The film works partly because it carries more modest aspirations largely shunning the laugh-a-minute pace and copious pop-culture humor that characterized the first three installments. The franchise is clearly running on fumes but this film has just enough laughter in the tank to make it to the finish line intact.
One final note: The 3D aspect of Shrek Forever After is surprisingly mundane adding little to the overall viewing experience. It’s disappointing considering that Dreamworks just recently did such terrific work on the 3D sequences in How to Train Your Dragon. Save your cash and hit a 2D showing instead.
The duo has snagged honours at the 66th annual Theatre World Awards, and will pick up the prizes at an invitation-only gala on 8 June (10).
Johansson was honoured for her role in A View from The Bridge and Urie claimed his prize for The Temperamentals.
Other actors singled out include: Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur), Chris Chalk (Fences), Bill Heck (The Orphans' Home Cycle) and Jon Michael Hill (Superior Donuts).
The race to land the coveted role has been a two-year marathon, with many comic book fans urging movie chiefs to sign up Mad Men star Jon Hamm for the lead.
Some critics have slammed the decision to hire Evans, insisting the 28-year-old actor is too young to play Captain America, but the comic giant's editor-in-chief is adamant he's the best man for the job.
Quesada tells Comic Book Resources, "Here you have a guy who absolutely embodies every aspect of Cap (Captain America), including the look and feel of the character. (Producer) Kevin Feige was absolutely beaming after meeting with Chris and seeing what he could do, and I've got to tell you, I think he's perfect as well.
"That to me is the beauty of the movies that we at Marvel produce. We know the characters better than anyone outside of our fans, and we know how important it is to cast just that right person. We aren't a bunch of Hollywood execs who don't understand the source material or its history.
"It's Marvel guys and gals making Marvel movies, and that's a huge difference."