One of the first films I ever reviewed was the animated adaptation of “Curious George”, starring Will Ferrell as the voice of The Man in the Yellow Hat. One of the last films I will be reviewing in my first 10 years as a film critic is “Daddy’s Home”, with Ferrell re-teaming with his “Other Guys” co-star Mark Wahlberg. Over the past decade, Ferrell has provided audiences with some hilarious characters and movies we’ve been quoting since he first spoke them on screen. His films have also made a lot of money: nearly $1.4 billion in the U.S. alone. Here are some highlights:
Ferrell’s sports movie phase (which began with 2005’s “Kicking and Screaming”) continued in ’06 with “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. This Nascar comedy co-starred John C. Reilly (he and Ferrell would become “Step Brothers” in ’08), a pre-“Borat” Sacha Baron Cohen, a pre-“Glee” Jane Lynch and a pre-“Enchanted” Amy Adams. 2007 saw Ferrell take to the ice with “Napoleon Dynamite”‘s Jon Heder in “Blades of Glory”, alongside Craig T. Nelson and Amy Poehler and Will Arnett (when they were still married in real-life). But “Semi-Pro”, in 2008, was an air-ball for Ferrell, bombing at the box office due to poor reviews and an R-rating.
Animated films have been kind to Ferrell. Besides “George”, he voiced the title “Megamind” for DreamWorks in 2010 and the evil Lord Business in 2014’s “The LEGO Movie” (along with a surprise live-action cameo).
Ferrell took on the political world with Zach Galifianakis in the highly entertaining “The Campaign” (2012), trained for prison with Kevin Hart in “Get Hard” (2015), spoke Spanish in “Casa De Mi Padre” (2012), and fought-off dinos in “Land of the Lost” (2009). He and director Adam McKay also brought back Ron Burgundy two years ago for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”. Burgundy dominated the airwaves with a multi-year, multi-media marketing campaign that, many agree, was a bit overkill.
But what Ferrell may be most remembered for over these last ten years are the two films that showcased both his comedic timing and dramatic skills. He received critical praise for his performance in the indie “Everything Must Go” (2010), about a man who sells, literally, everything on his front lawn. And, in my favorite Ferrell film of the decade, “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006), he played Harold Crick, a real-life IRS auditor, who is also the actual main character of a novel simultaneously being written by author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). It’s a smart movie that nicely mixes quirky humor, the absurdities of life and real emotion, and Ferrell earned a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination.