Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Will Ferrell will put on the dunce cap once again. According to Deadline, TriStar has purchased The Yank, in which he'll play a mild-mannered insurance courier who finds himself in the middle of a heist to steal the crown jewels. Since the large majority of us don't stumble our way into the middle of gigantic, illicit conspiracies, it's safe to say that Ferrell's latest character won't be the brightest bulb in the box. In fact, Ferrell has made a career of playing dim-witted dunderheads. Even his ostensibly smart characters are clearly lacking a couple thousand brain cells. But which is the dumbest dope that Ferrell has ever played? We've decided to rank all of Ferrell's idiots in ascending order of stupidity.
Megamind (Megamind) Megamind is actually a genius, albeit an evil one, so he gets the top spot. However, he is a dope when he comes to relationships.
Harold Crick (Stranger Than Fiction)Sacrificing your life in the name of great art is quite an academic pursuit, so cheers.
Det. Allen Gamble (The Other Guys) Under a slightly frumpy and dopey exterior is actually the mind of a pretty gifted detective. In any case, you have to be doing something smart to attract Eva Mendez.
Buddy (Elf) Buddy isn't stupid as he is just lost in a world that isn't constantly running in full-on Christmas mode. The North Pole is a long sleigh ride away from Manhattan.
Chazz Michael Michaels (Blades of Glory)It does take some smarts to weasel your way back into a sport you were banned from. Too bad the tapes of him figure skating with Jon Heder will exist on the internet forever. That's quite the oversight.
Dr. Rick Marshall (Land of the Lost)Marshall is actually a gifted scientist, but for all of his fancy book learning, he does lack an incredible amount of common sense.
Phil Weston (Kicking and Screaming)Getting that wrapped up in pee-wee soccer, the least worthy pee-wee sport there is, is almost criminally stupid.
Cam Brady (The Campaign) Cam Brady nearly makes real politicians seem smart...nearly.
Jackie Moon (Semi-Pro)In Jackie Moon's world, wrestling a bear is a good way of promoting your failing basketball franchise.
Mustafa (Austin Powers) He's quite the survivor ("I've been very badly burned"), but if you can only take three questions before spilling clandestine info, then you're the worst henchman possible.
Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)Sweet baby Jesus is Ricky Bobby dumb. He's the epitome of every Nascar stereotype every conceived.
Steve Butabi (A Night at the Roxbury) These club-addicted idiots have nothing rattling around their heads beyond velour suits and Haddaway's "What is Love."
Brennan Huff (Step Brothers)Brennan is probably the biggest and most spoiled man-child ever produced by the Ferrell and McKay tag team.
Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)Ron is pretty close to the top. Fortunately enough for him, though, the rest of the world surrounding him is nearly as stupid as he is.
Frank "The Tank" Rickard (Old School)Frank the Tank is definitively the stupidest person Will Ferrell has ever played. He somehow manages to shoot himself with a rhino tranquilizer just in time to ruin a kid's birthday party.
Though ostensibly successful 2009’s The Final Destination represented to many a horror franchise on its last hackneyed legs. Rote uninspired and humorless it scored a (modest) hit only by virtue of the novelty -- and added ticket price -- of its 3D transfer. Two years later Final Destination 5 arrives with a slightly tweaked formula a beefed-up storyline actors you might actually recognize and genuine honest-to-goodness 3D. It’s still schlock mind you -- but artful schlock and a marked improvement over the preceding entry.
The story begins in familiar fashion with a cursory introduction to the characters followed by a grisly premonition that sees them perish wholesale. An assortment of cubicle-dwellers at a paper factory are being bused to a corporate retreat when one of them Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto perpetually bug-eyed) dreams of a massive bridge collapse in which he and his co-workers are impaled beheaded bisected crushed by cars singed by tar -- however many ways a suspension bridge can kill a person the film’s opening set-piece explores it gruesome detail. Sam awakens duly horrified and demands the bus be evacuated. Seconds later the employees watch in horror from the sidelines as Sam’s vision comes to fruition.
You know what happens next. One-by-one death stalks the survivors who meet their fate in a series of elaborately-staged incidents. Some are relatively straightforward; others involve fiendish head-fakes and red herrings. The range of victims is older and more colorful than in previous Final Destination films in which death preyed exclusively on attractive nubile teenagers but the end result is invariably the same. (Not to give anything away but those considering acupuncture or laser eye surgery would be wise to avoid the film entirely.) As death’s scheme becomes achingly evident Sam his lachrymose girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell) and his increasingly unhinged buddy Peter (Miles Fisher) become increasingly desperate. Enter the ever-ominous Tony Todd returning to the franchise after (wisely) taking the previous film off offering a potential way out. But is it genuine or just another of death’s cruel tricks?
Director Steven Quale a James Cameron protege hired principally for his 3D expertise takes full advantage of the added dimension delivering some of the most vivid and immersive 3D sequences in recent memory. Unlike The Final Destination which seemed little more than a amalgam of crude one-liners Final Destination 5 feels like a real movie one with a discernible plot an element of suspense and a handful characters who are more than just punchlines. Most of the actors are surprisingly competent save for Fisher a credible doppelganger for Tom Cruise (he parodied him 2008’s Superhero Movie) who imbues every line with couch-jumping intensity.
Final Destination 5 ends with a twist that while genuinely unexpected feels like a Hail Mary for a franchise that can’t forestall its inexorable descent into stale irrelevance despite the best of efforts from Quale. Its trademark formula has simply lost its potency -- a problem no amount of cosmetic upgrades however welcome can fix. That the film is bracketed by two pointless and time-consuming montages -- the first an animated sequence that hurtles various hazardous objects at the audience the second a greatest hits compilation of memorable kills from previous Final Destination films -- is a telltale sign that the saga’s creativity is on life support. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.
Horrible Bosses is, so far, this summer’s most promising comedy. In part due to a darkly hilarious, and bitterly relatable plot, but mostly due to the brilliant amalgamation of the distinct comic styles of the three stars, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. With this the trio at the center of Horrible Bosses, it's hard to avoid comparing them to the "Frat Pack," and more specifically the trio at the center of Old School: Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell.
Old School, like Horrible Bosses, has a hysterically outlandish plot, but the real humor in the film lies in the differences among the main castmembers: each of the three men offer a different comedic angle that, when combined, produced a formula that, eight years later still makes Old School one of the funniest movies out there. Though by no means unique to the raunchy comedy, this three-man formula is what launched this group to stardom. The film uses this dynamic to highlight the unique comic strengths of Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell--each playing to his strengths as the Straight Man, the Wiseass and the Basket Case, respectively. Horrible Bosses seems to have recognized this, as a strikingly similar opportunity is availed in this film to Bateman, Sudeikis and Day. All most famous for their television roles (Bateman was the star of Arrested Development, Sudeikis is still one of the funniest featured players on Saturday Night Live, and Charlie Day is the reason to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), their distinct stylings offer just as much to the big screen as they do to the small screen.Following in the footsteps of Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell (who, of course, were following in the footsteps of other famous threes in comedy: Stooges, Amigos, Men and a Baby), Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are the natural embodiments of a comic routine that is sure to incite laughter.
With this in its arsenal, Horrible Bosses could turn out to be the Old School for Bateman, Sudeikis and Day—perhaps the first in a long line of hilarious film collaborations.
The Straight Man
As is the case in so many comedies, at the center of a group of madmen, idiots and philanderers is someone who is passable as a functional human being. Whether his strength be intelligence, morality, or just simply the propensity to listen to reason once in a blue moon, this character often plays as the leader of his mentally inferior comrades. In Old School, the role was occupied by Wilson—a sad-sack who just didn’t have it in him to be as big a jerk or a fool as his buddies. Wilson garnered our sympathy as he played, scarily naturally, the kind of guy that bad things just happen to. The sort of Job figure who accepts his bad fortune, but sees very clearly the error of it all. But Bateman is no Job (joke excessively intended). He's acerbic, aggravated, and at constant odds with all of the forces against him. Bateman amplifies the levelheaded character into so much more than just a vehicle for a perspective on the insanity around him. The actor turns the very idea of the sole grounded character into hilarity. Bateman can play frustrated, dumbfounded and put-upon so well that you ache with sympathy for him—even when he’s lashing back at his moron friends or family members with unrelenting pompousness and (in the actor’s own words) “natural dickishness.” Bateman’s sharp tongue, self-righteous attitude and excusably condescending delivery allows for him to turn the traditionally boring role of “the straight man” into comedic masterwork time and time again.
To release the tension in high-stakes situations like planning frat parties…and murder…there needs to be a wiseass in every group. Someone who doesn’t really seem to be taking any of the consequences all that seriously. A perpetually quipping, deep-voiced “man’s man” whose only significant fixations are carnal. One of Vince Vaughn’s earliest of many wisecracking performances was displayed in Old School, and in Horrible Bosses, the role is fulfilled by Jason Sudeikis. The deliveries of these two comedians are heavily divergent: Vaughn is notorious for an unparalleled rapid-fire delivery, shooting off a few dozen marked critiques at all those who surround him in under a minute. Sudeikis is more of the laid back type: he'll cough out a joke at anyone's expense with that incurable grin on his face. As his most notable work is sketch-work on SNL, Sudeikis probably conjures a more versatile list of types than his two costars. He also terrifically played Floyd, the “only decent boyfriend” Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) ever had in a recurring role on 30 Rock. But his talents really shine as the laid-back joker, invoking aggravation in his uptight gang leader due to his refusal to accept any semblance of sincerity or genuine maturity. The key to Sudeikis’ greatness is that you truly believe that if the actor himself were in any of these situations, he’d react the same way. Real-life Sudeikis doesn’t seem like he’d be all that bothered by his involvement in a murder plot. Art imitates life. Thus, we are granted the perfect “wiseass.” Hilarity ensues.
The Basket Case
Bateman is the King of the group. Sudeikis: the Joker. And now, of course, we come to The Wild Card. Winning the audiences of every comedy worth its salt is someone who traverses into territories that are beyond human. A character stricken with a level of stupidity, mental instability, amorality, substance abuse, self-destructive habits or just general lack of regard for anything that could be remotely recognizable as normal. Charlie Day, as Charlie Kelly in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is the epitome of EACH ONE of these qualities. In Old School, Will Ferrell stole the show as the brain-dead Frank “The Tank” Rickard, and it’ll be no surprise if Day delivers a performance of this caliber in Horrible Bosses. Ferrell has carried his 'hysterical buffoon' for nearly a decade. Most recently, he brought touches (or minefields) of the persona to his character on The Office, DeAngelo Vickars. The actor is famous for a perpetual blank-faced confusion, high-volume outbursts, and a complete misunderstanding of human coordination. Charlie Day, though...he's where this routine stops evoking a sense of childlike innocence, and begins to resemble a very dark, hilariously horrifying emotional disturbance. Even at his calmest, Day always seems to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He stammers uneasily through casual social interaction. He faces backbreaking challenge with ideas that a first grader would fine tediously simplistic. And when his fuse is lit—it always happens sooner or later—he explodes into a hurricane of incoherent shrieks, destruction of property, and the undercurrent that he might drop dead at any second. And I don’t think I’m being too optimistic to think that Day has plenty of other tricks at his disposal that we’ve yet to see. The exemplification of a human being that has had all but life itself beaten out of him: that’s what you want in your “basket case.” And that’s what Day does best.
I know I’ll be angering a lot of people by saying that Horrible Bosses could be this group’s Old School. Sure, Old School was a modern classic. But don’t be so sure that Horrible Bosses won’t be the same. With a team like Bateman, Sudeikis and Day, all doing what they do best, I have nothing but high hopes for the movie and for the future of these guys’ film careers. Let’s just hope none of them get involved with another Blades of Glory.