Posts Tagged ‘will ferrell’

TV Review: Ferrell Takes the Field (2015)

Posted: September 19, 2015 in Comedy
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ferrelltakesthefield

Will Ferrell attempts to play 10 positions in 5 ballparks one day during Spring Training.  His efforts raised money for a charity called Cancer For College.

I wasn’t sure about this special, other than The Lego Movie, Ferrell’s movies have not been great, so this special had a short leash for me.  It could have been a spectacular failure, but it was actually pretty funny, I was pleasantly surprised.  Particularly funny were the sessions with the A’s and Dodgers.  Some gags did not work, but there were lots of laugh out loud moments.

Ferrell didn’t really make a fool of himself playing baseball, he made a few plays, that would be considered routine for a pro player, but for an actor and a comedian, the plays were pretty good.  If you like baseball, you will like this special.  If you don’t like baseball, you still might like this special.  It’s clear that Ferrell likes baseball.

Ferrell Takes The Field:  Not a home run, but a definite triple.

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anchorman 2

It is the 1980’s, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone  (Christina Applegate) are now married, and co-anchoring the news in New York.  Legendary new anchor (Mack Tannen) is retiring and Ron thinks he’s going to be chosen to succeed him, but Mack chooses Veronica.  Ron’s oversized ego is shattered.  He ends up at Seaworld, introducing the marine acts.  He meets Freddy Shapp  (Dylan Baker) who has an idea to start a 24-hour news channel with airline magnate, Kench Allenby.  (Josh Lawson) Ron reunites the news team that rocketed him to fame in San Diego.  Sportcaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) is selling fried bats as fried chicken.  Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is a famous cat photographer,and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) is presumed dead, but shows up at his own funeral.  Ron’s given the graveyard shift, but he has an idea that may revolutionize news, but does it work?

I wanted to love this movie, but a lot of this movie is a re-hash of the first movie.  Ron is an egomaniac, due for a comeuppance, and he gets several. Brick Tamland is the same incredibly dumb character he played in the first movie.  Champ Kind is now an offensive racist. The satire of CNN, and Ted Turner is obvious.  The relationship between Ron and his black female boss mirrors that of Ron and Victoria in the first movie, with Ron embarrassing himself in front of her family.  The problem is very few of the jokes work, and many of them are downright cringeworthy. Ron’s scenes with his son, and new boss just didn’t work.  On top of all that the movie is way too long, one set of scenes had Ron’s son raising a shark as a pet, if that was a Free Willy satire, it didn’t work.  Those scenes should have been removed. The whole movie takes too long to develop and the payoff isn’t worth it.

Will Ferrell plays the same officious boor that he played in the first movie, it was tolerable in the first movie, it is not in this movie. Ferrell has made a career out of playing unapologetic jerks, and it’s wearing thin. Christina Applegate has less to do, and is therefore less funny.  Steve Carell has gone from  one of my favorite comedic actors, to being one of  the most annoying actors in the movies,  I don’t know what Greg Kinnear is doing in this movie, but whatever it is, it’s not funny.  Paul  Rudd is the only person who redeems himself in this movie, and he doesn’t have nearly enough funny lines. There are a bunch of famous cameos in one of the final scenes, but the cameo scene, soon dissolves into unfunny excess.

There is nothing of note about the direction, except for a few wasted special effects and a plethora of scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

This is yet another sequel that never should have been made.

Anchorman.  Weighed down by too many unfunny jokes.

the lego movie

President Business (Will Ferrell) steals the Kragle, an object of unlimited power, from Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) a prophet who predicts that someone called the Special , will find another object called the Piece of Resistance, that has the ability to stop the all-powerful Kragle from inflicting any harm. An average construction worker named Emmitt Brickowski  (Chris Pratt) is so good at fitting in, and following all the rules, that he doesn’t leave an impression on anyone.

Emmitt is happy listening to his favorite song, “Everything Is Awesome” and watching his favorite show, “Where Are My Pants” both produced by the Octan corporation, whose CEO is President Business.   He follows the blueprints to build everything, and is perfectly content to go on living the way he lives. Emmitt is at the construction site after hours, telling someone to leave because it’s against the rules.  All of a sudden, he realizes that the intruder is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.  Her name is Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and she’s after the Piece of Resistance.  While Emmitt is transfixed by Wildstyle the Piece of Resistance becomes permanently affixed to Emmitt, and he can’t take it off.  Now that Emmitt has the Piece of Resistance he becomes a target of President Business and his loyal foot soldier Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) President Business is planning to use the Kragle to immobilize the citizens of his realm on Taco Tuesday, because he is a rigid dictator.  Can Emmitt evade Bad Cop and get the Piece of Resistance to the top of the Octan Tower before President Business uses the Kragle on his populace?  Is Emmitt the Special?  Does he fulfill the prophesy?

This is a wonderful movie.  The Everyman has a chance to rise to the occasion, and become the Special.  That might be a hackneyed premise, it may even be borrowed from movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, but that’s what makes this movie so endearing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.  It’s even subtly subversive, ok obviously subversive, anti-corporate and wackily anti-conformist.  The Lego Movie does lose its focus a bit when it becomes solely about product placement when Emmitt zooms around the different playsets, but unlike Transformers (Similar toy, worse movies) The Lego Movie finds its footing, and has a satisfying ending, which is neither cloying nor saccharine, but heartfelt. More important than all the adult themes kids learn the importance of individuality, and also working together when necessary.  Those themes may seem contradictory, but they are not in this movie.

The voice talent is amazing in this movie.  Chris Pratt plays Emmitt as a low key hero.  Morgan Freeman is splendid, just hearing his golden voice as the prophet Vitruvius is worth the price of a rental.  Will Ferrell redeems himself after a string of lousy movies, as the evil President Business, but there’s more to his character than initially appears.  Elizabeth Banks has a great voice, she conveys a sense of innocence, and yet her voice sounds sexy.  Can I say she has a sexy voice in a movie aimed at kids?  Well it’s true.  Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, and Liam Neeson makes a nice comedic turn as Bad Cop.  There are cameos by a few Star Wars stars, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams add to the laughs, and professional voice actor Keith Ferguson does a pretty serviceable Harrison Ford impression as Han Solo. Shaquille O’ Neal even shows up as himself.  All the actors understood how much fun this movie was, and joined in the spirit of making a truly entertaining film.

The pacing of this movie is more like an action film than an animated film, so the 1 hour 40 minute length goes by in a flash, rent it and watch it with your kids, or watch it with your friends, it’s that funny.

The Lego Movie:  All the pieces fit to make a very good film.

stranger_than_fiction

Harold Crick (Will Farrell) is an I.R.S. agent with a very regimented life.  He brushes his teeth with a certain amount of brush strokes, he walks the same distance to the bus stop every day, he takes the same amount of time for lunch every day.  He eats alone, he sleeps alone and the next day the regimen starts all over again.  Except now he hears a voice in his head, narrating the day.  The narrator (Emma Thompson) narrates his whole day, from morning to night.  While hearing the voice in his head, Harold is also auditing a quirky bakery shop owner, named Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who despises Harold, because he represents the establishment.  But from the moment Harold sees Ana’s tattooed body, he knows he wants her, lust soon turns to love, and Harold decides not to live such a regimented life. He takes up the guitar, and starts wearing sweaters instead of a suit and tie with a single Windsor knot.  Just then, the narrator tells Harold of his impending death.  Harold decides to ask a literary professor, Jules Hibbert (Dustin Hoffman) not a psychiatrist to help identify the voice in his head.  Who is this narrator?  How does she know Harold is going to die?  Can Professor Hibbert help Harold identify the voice of the narrator?

I love Stranger Than Fiction.  It’s got such an interesting concept and the concept is almost fully realized.  All the comedy, all the sadness of a everyman facing his own mortality is wrung out of this beautifully written script.   It’s an acerbic satire of writers, most people think of writers as detached, genteel, well-educated, omnipotent people.  This movie turns that impression on its head, according to this movie, writers are chain-smoking neurotic, verbose, egomaniacs with a God complex.  This movie is more than a scathing satire of writers, it’s an existential comedy, if there is such a thing.  The questions brought to mind are, who created us and why.  What if that creator decided to snuff out our lives, just as we were starting to enjoy ourselves?  Could we talk to our creator, as Job did in the Bible?  What would happen after such an intervention?  I’m sure the writer wasn’t thinking of Job, but that’s what this movie made me think of.  I said the concept was almost fully realized because the writer, Zack Helm, wrote an ending that I hated for this movie, and that made an otherwise flawless movie have a big flaw.

This is a beautifully acted movie.  Will Ferrell gives up his usual oafish buffoonery, for a quiet understated, performance.  Not that I don’t enjoy his occasional buffoonery like Frank the Tank or Ron Burgundy, but this movie and Elf show he’s capable of so much more.  He’s capable of playing, sweet, gentle,  vulnerable characters, and this movie shows that side of him.  Maggie Gyllenhaal is absolutely irresistible as a perky, sassy, sensual, goddess of the counterculture. Emma Thompson absolutely steals the movie as the narrator, yes there is voice over narration, but it’s used to hilarious effect.  Dustin Hoffman is wonderful, trying to figure out the ridiculous situation he’s presented with, his humor is at its driest. And Queen Latifah, when given a good script shines, with superb comic timing, even with the rapid-fire dialog she is given.  Everybody is at their best here.

Stranger Than Fiction.  It’s a fact, this is a great film.

 

 

Movie Review: The Campaign (2012)

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Comedy
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the campaign

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is sitting pretty, he’s running unopposed for re-election in the 14th Congressional District in North Carolina.  He’s got a beautiful wife, named Rose (Katherine La Nasa) and two kids.  But that’s not enough for Cam, he also has a mistress named Shana (Kate Long Johnson. ) Cam somehow keeps Shana under wraps until he mistakenly calls a conservative Christian couple and leaves a lewd message on their answering machine, thinking that he’s calling Shana.

As his poll numbers drop, Cam gets an unlikely opponent, a tour bus operator named Marty Huggins. (Zach Galiifianakis).  Marty has two things going for him, his famous politician father, Raymond, (Brian Cox) and the unlimited campaign donations of the Moch Brothers (Dan Aykroyd & John Lithgow)  The first thing the Moch brothers do is hire political consultant Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermot) who immediately gets rid of Marty’s more feminine characteristics, and spoonfeeds him a bunch of poll tested applause lines.  Th Moch Brothers want to buy land in North Carolina, repeal minimum wage laws and EPA standards, and sell the factories back to Chinese at a handsome profit.  Marty is blissfully unaware of the Moch Brothers plans, and the race see-saws back and forth, until Election Day.  Who wins?  What happens to the Moch brothers plans?

I will say this to begin with, I had low expectations for this movie, but I liked it a lot.  It was very funny, sometimes silly, sometimes scatological, but often very funny.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much good political satire there was, and how on target it was, especially those surefire applause lines about the military, jobs and God. There are even scenes that remind me of Trading Places and dare I say it, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in that an innocent guy is caught up in shady dealings by rich people.

Zach Galifianakis made me laugh from the time he came on screen, playing Marty, who his father calls a result of “Richard Simmons crapping out a Hobbit.”  Marty is a sweet, sensitive, kind soul, who turns on a dime, and becomes an attack dog. Galifianakis plays the role perfectly, and steals the movie. Will Ferrell is as funny as I’ve seen him in a long time, he has two character types, the jerky guy, and the innocent.  Lately the jerky guy character hasn’t worked too well for Ferrell, the Other Guys, Step Brothers, Semi Pro, but when it works, like in Anchorman, it’s very funny, and it works this time.  Sure he channels George W a lot, but it’s sufficiently different to make it funny on its own. Congratulations to Karen Maruyama for turning a stereotype on its head, by playing another stereotype, I thought she was very funny.

The Campaign.  I endorse this movie.

anchorman

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is the top rated anchorman in San Diego in the early 1970’s.  Burgundy and his news team , field reporter Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner)  and dim witted weatherman Brick Tamland  (Steve Carell) are kings of the male dominated local news hill.  They have competition from the likes of rival anchor Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) but he’s not much competition.  The times they were a changing, and station manager Ed Harken (Fred Willard) is getting pressure to diversify the news team, to he hires Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) as an addition to the news team.  At first, all the men try to date Veronica, but they all strike out, even though Brian is wearing Sex Panther, a fragrance banned in some countries because of its use of actual panther.  Ron is the last one to try dating Veronica, and he wins her over by playing jazz flute in a club called Tino’s.  The next day, Ron brags about his latest conquest on the air, and Veronica is understandably perturbed.

Ron Burgundy’s perfect world is about to come crashing down around him.  While driving, Ron throws a nearly full burrito out the window that hits a biker.(Jack Black)  The biker retaliates by kicking Ron’s beloved dog, Baxter off a bridge.  Ron is so upset, he cannot do the news, so Victoria fills in as lead anchor.  The ratings are in, and Victoria’s a hit, and now she’s Ron’s co-anchor, the bickering between the co-anchors begins.  Victoria learns that Ron will read anything on the teleprompter, and sabotages him. Ron gets fired, and goes on a drinking binge at the local bar.  Then the biggest story in local news is about to break, the panda at the San Diego Zoo is about to give birth, and Veronica is nowhere to be found.  Ed Harken calls Ron.  Can Ron save the day and find Veronica?

This is just a flat out funny movie.  I understand that Ron Burgundy is a male chauvinist pig, but he’s a jerk with a big attitude adjustment coming in the form of a smart woman named Veronica Corningstone, she’s seen all this sexism before and she won’t put up with it.    The counterbalance of Ron’s asinine attitudes about women and Veronica’s smart and sometimes ruthless drive to become an anchor is what makes this movie fun to watch.  Ron understanding the dog is an old gag from Steve Martin’s The Jerk, but that’s ok, it’s funny too.

Will Ferrell  has played a jerk many times, racecar driver Ricky Bobby, one of the Stepbrothers in Stepbrothers, but Ron Burgundy is a likeable jerk, unlike the other two characters, something about him makes him likeable.  Christina Applegate is fantastic in this movie, she makes a great foil for Ferrell, and is quite funny in her own right.  Paul Rudd is also funny as the sex-crazed newsman Brian Fontana,  Steve Carell is a one joke character, which gets old fast, and David Koechner has a man crush on Ron.  There are funny cameos by Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Tim Robbins.  It’s just gut bustlingly funny, often in bad taste, but just relax and enjoy. Produced by Judd Apatow produced this before becoming famous for Superbad and Knocked Up.  They are making a sequel which is why I wanted to re-watch the original, I hope Ferrell and company don’t screw it up.

Anchorman:  It aint heavy, it’s funny.

Movie Review: Elf (2003)

Posted: December 29, 2012 in Comedy
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elf

Buddy (Will Ferrell) crawled into Santa’s (Ed Asner) bag of gifts one Christmas, as Santa was visiting the orphanage.  Buddy was taken to the North Pole and raised by a kindly elf named Poppa Elf.  (Bob Newhart)  30 years later when Buddy is 6’3” and not quick at making toys with the speed of the other elves, he had to be told the truth, he was a human.  Poppa Elf tells him the truth, that Buddy’s mom gave him up for adoption and then died, and his father, Walter Hobbes (James Caan) never knew Buddy was born.  Buddy sets out from the North Pole to find his dad, who is now a not so successful children’s book publisher.  Buddy finds his dad, and Walter of course thinks Buddy is some kind of Christmas gram, because Buddy is dressed in a green leotard.

After getting forcibly ejected from the Empire State building, Buddy finds himself at Gimbel’s department store, where he works on Christmas decorations, and meets Jovie, (Zooey Deschannel) a frustrated, but pretty department store employee.  After he hears from the department store manager (Faison Love) that Santa is coming to the store, Buddy stays up all night and decorates the store.  When he realizes that the Santa is not the real Santa, the resulting altercation lands Buddy in jail.  Walter bails Buddy out and gives Buddy a blood test.  Much to Walter’s chagrin, Buddy is his son.  With no better alternative, Walter takes Buddy home.

Walter’s wife Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and son Michael (Michael Tay) are equally skeptical of a 6 foot elf in a green leotard, who chugs soda and puts maple syrup on spaghetti.  But Buddy slowly starts to win people over, first his half-brother Michael, by winning a snowball fight with Michael’s bullies.  Then he wins Jovie over by taking her on a date, showing her Christmas trees and going skating in Rockefeller Center.

Things are not going well for Walter, his books are not selling, and to get Buddy out of his hair, Walter sends him to the mailroom.  His writers tell Walter that he needs to hire the hottest writer in children’s books, Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage) .  Just when Miles and Walter are making progress in the  meeting, Buddy bursts into the office, and since Miles is a little person, Buddy calls him an Elf, Miles leaves the office, mortally offended, and Buddy knowing that he ruined everything for his father, plans to run away.

Just as things seem darkest, Santa flies into New York.  His sleigh is damaged, and he needs Buddy to fix it.  Does Buddy fix Santa’s sleigh?  Does he reconcile with his father?  Can he build some Christmas spirit in cynical New York City?

This is one of three essential movies that I watch every Christmas. It’s A Wonderful Life is one, A Christmas Story is two, and this is three.  Some people might think it’s about an overgrown man who thinks he’s an elf, but it’s really about a man with the childlike innocence to believe in Santa Claus, trying to change the cynical hearts of those dearest to him. That’s what makes this movie one of my favorite movies.  Will Ferrell is the embodiment of that childlike innocence, and it’s gratifying to see him try to win people over with his happy, joyful spirit.  James Caan, Zooey Deschannel, and Michael Tay are wonderful as the cynical people who Ferrell tries to win over.  This movie is a testament to the power of true simplistic faith, and how that faith can change hearts.  Also, Will Ferrell is damn funny in this role, and Zooey Deschanel has a beautiful voice, which is nicely displayed here.  I think because Ferrell plays the role with such simplicity such ease, this is easily one of his best roles.  It’s a simple, short story effectively told, full of laughs and touching at the same time.  Watch it.

Elf.  Not short on laughs