As the Anchorman sequel nine years in the making unfolds in theaters around Christmas time, we should celebrate the picture of Will Ferrell at his major motion picture best and wave goodbye. Ferrell’s big-budget movie career should end with the franchise that turned him from SNL hall of famer, to Old School streaker, to full-blast cult figure.
He’s played enough prototype roles and it’s time to hang it up; at least, in terms of starring in cookie cutter films that you leave more disappointed than you were excited walking into the theater. His role as Cam Brady in The Campaign, an utterly vulgar and rude film, was the end of the road — and Casa de mi Padre was a joke.
My opinion may be a sign of maturity, but I’ve grown too far displeased with most of his movies since the 2004 breakout hit — spare Step Brothers and the out-of-the-comfort-zone Stranger Than Fiction. My 25-year-old brother still quotes the film every so often, but the days of sitting around a card table with friends and reciting lines are long gone. I own the multi-volume collection of his best SNL skits and that’s how I want to remember him.
As I get older (two years younger than said brother), so does the generation of high school kids that bought everything Ferrell sold from 2004-present. If I see Anchorman 2 in theaters, the only likely reason will be to attempt to relive the past when “Brick killed a guy!” was the funniest murder ever.
Nobody blames Ferrell for cashing in on writers (namely partner Adam McKay) penning anything and everything for him, but at some point I have to admit what my 17-year-old self refused to: Talladega Nights, Kicking & Screaming, and Semi Pro weren’t good.
One trick ponies like Ferrell run out of gas at some point. I don’t understand how in the hell Adam Sandler continues to make the same movie over and over again, but he does. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrell tries to outlast Sandler, but somebody needs to take them off the big screen because I can’t take any more big-screen orgies like Grown Ups, which is a movie about somebody trying to mask the fact that this is a movie about a bunch of over-aged has-beens.
Ferrell has proven better in small doses, which might not be a coincidence. He was fun in Wedding Crashers and even The Office, while it lasted. It’s refreshing to see Ferrell as Buddy the Elf every December when Elf gets put on repeat on every channel, but that’s not who he is. Unfortunately, Ferrell didn’t stick in the acute children’s holiday movie genre, nor the out of the box roles in Stranger Than Fiction.
I don’t hate Will Ferrell. He doesn’t annoy me to all ends. In fact, it’s been nice the past couple of years when Ferrell’s movies were much more quietly discussed than universally hyped. I’ve been able to return to movies like Old School and actually enjoy them and enjoy the Ferrell we had back in those days, without getting sick at the sight of him.
It’s time for that to become a permanent thing, wishing Ferrell to only show up in small roles or cameos. The people who were teenagers when Ferrell was an SNL cast member and can ignore and appreciate his comedic talent nowadays are lucky. Frankly, I’m lucky to be a member of the generation that grew up on movies like Old School, Anchorman and even Step Brothers. I weep for the teenagers today, who know nothing of Ferrell than the shell of himself that he is now and the elf he played once and never turned out to be.