Two of the biggest names in comedy working together on a political comedy? Almost sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, it is and isn’t.
The good (and possibly great) news is that Warner Bros. Pictures has purchased a pitch that will bring together Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell in a couldn’t-be-better-timed political comedy set to be released during the 2012 mad-house election cycle. Despite what you may think of their movies (Due Date was funny, but it was no Hangover. The Other Guys was refreshing for Ferrell, but he has made crap like Blades of Glory), they are two of the funniest actors working right now. Ferrell’s flame might have burned out as of late, but Zach’s (give me a break, it’s really hard writing Galifianakis over and over, and your pity checks can reach me by mail) stock couldn’t be higher.
What holds me back from declaring this the next great American Comedy is the peripheral players. Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell are writing the script while Jay Roach will serve as one of many producers. These three guys have worked with some of the top comedic talent in the past decade to extremely varying results.
Let’s start with the easy one first. Harwell is a relative newcomer, his only produced credit is second season of Eastbound and Down, on which he served as a lead writer. While the season was spectacular, how much of that credit can go to Harwell remains unclear. And since Eastbound and Down is a Gary Sanchez production (headed by Ferrell and his writing/directing partner Adam McKay who will also produce this new comedy), he could be their new go to writer. It’s really easy to say you’re a great writer when you’re also working with Danny McBride and Jody Hill. So I’ll hold judgment until he’s proven himself (I’m nice like that).
Henchy is a Funny or Die staple (also another Ferrell/McKay joint), having produced and written several of their most notable videos. He also co-wrote The Other Guys, which, as mentioned before was rather good all things considered, but like Harwell he has worked with some mighty big talent, making it difficult to tell how much he contributes. I should clarify that I’m not accusing these guys of coat-tailing the talents of better men, rather, I’m playing devil’s advocate. They could be the funniest guys on the planet, I’m just not sure of how much funny is their own. Not knowing the behind the scenes workings, I’m only going on what I’ve seen.
Roach, again, has worked with some great talent (Ben Stiller, Mike Myers, Steve Carell) and produced some mixed results (Yay to Austin Powers, nay to Dinner For Schmucks). He’s obviously capable of handling the talent of two giants like Ferrell and Galiafinakis (both of whom he has worked with before) so we shall see how this turns out.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and put my neck on the line by saying that this will be a better than expected movie (a truly bold prediction, I know, I’ll be taking my Pulitzer at any time). Even if the script is crap and the directing sucks, Galiafinakis and Ferrell are two of the best improvisers in the industry. The people in front of and behind the camera are not idiots (I hope) and they have the best scenario going into the film. I don’t think they’ll screw it up. Or rather, I hope they don’t.