Synopsis: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opened this week bringing confident but thick news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) back to the big screen after a nine year absence. The first film made catchphrases like, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch,” and the names Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Champion “Champ” Kind (David Koechner) household words. In celebration of the return of the team from San Diego’s KVWN Channel 4 the Reel Guys have a look back at the career of funnyman Will Ferrell.
Richard: Mark, I think Will Ferrell is one of the bravest comedic actors working today; someone willing to do anything for a laugh. Trouble is, I often don’t laugh. Anchorman is laugh-out-loud funny. Ditto Elf and Old School, but sometimes I feel he has to rein the manic energy in, do half as much and maybe be twice as funny. Having said that, the Shark Week jokes in Step Brothers really make me giggle.
Mark: Richard, I share your ambivalence toward Ferrell. He’s not my go-to guy for funny. Still, he’s done some great work. My favourite Will Ferrell movies are two indie films he’s starred in: Stranger Than Fiction and Everything Must Go. They’re the equivalent of Jim Carrey’s work in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Maybe not huge crowd pleasers, but they show the true breadth of his talent.
RC: I agree. I think Stranger Than Fiction is worth a rental. It’s touching and funny, which for me is Ferrell’s sweet spot. A Night at the Roxbury is a silly comedy but Ferrell’s wide-eyed performance is the kind of thing I like from him. Outrageous, yes, but underneath the silly is a real guy. Sometimes I can’t see the real guy underneath his characters and those are his movies that don’t work for me. Except Zoolander. As fashion guru Mugatu he’s so strange he dares you not to laugh at him.
MB: Yes, he’s sometimes better in a supporting role in which his over-the-top zaniness doesn’t sink the whole picture. Mugatu for sure, but also the mattress salesman in The Internship or Franz in The Producers. But generally, I find his man-child jock character wearying. Which is why, I think, Anchorman is such a successful movie. It’s a Will Ferrell movie for people who don’t care for Will Ferrell movies. Did you enjoy the sequel, Richard?
RC: I did. I think there is a lot of life left in Ron Burgundy. It’s funny in an outrageous way. It’s a bit too long, (and don’t bother sitting through to the post credit scene unless you find the sight of Steve Carell eating cookies hilarious) but the buffoonery level is high in a season where serious drama seems to be the ticket.
In the last couple of weeks I have seen Ferrell, in character, sit in on some local newscasts and he fit right in. As long as there is media, egomaniac announcers and local news, there will be a place for Ron Burgundy.
MB: Yes, but let’s not forget he’s supported by a stellar cast of comic actors: Paul Rudd, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Wiig. Even if Ferrell isn’t your cup of tea, it’s hard to believe this movie won’t work.
“The Internship,” the story of two old guys who try to get jobs at Google, is the funniest infomercial I’ve ever seen. As a comedy movie it doesn’t rate that high, but as an advertisement for Google it’s a knee slapper.
I’ve seen product placement in movies before, but this is something else. By the time Rose Byrnes’ character says, “I believe what we do here makes people’s lives better,” I was ready to worship at the Church of the Sacred Search Engine.
We also learn that Google is ranked as the best place to work in America.
That’s all great, but I was hoping for more laughs with my infomercial.
This new buddy comedy pairs Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn for the first time since 2005’s “Wedding Crashers.” They are Nick and Billy, two wild and crazy guys whose sales jobs are made obsolete in the technological age. Unable to get a foothold in the new media field they crash Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters and become “noogles” in hopes of landing gigs as interns, despite having no experience with computers. “We’re looking at some sort of mental Hunger Games against a bunch of genius kids for just a handful of jobs,” says Nick.
There are some laughs in “The Internship.” Unfortunately very few of them are generated by the over-the-title-stars, Vaughn and Wilson. The chemistry that made “Wedding Crashers” such a big hit eight years ago is still in place, but the material isn’t. They still banter a blue streak—one of the characters says, “you’re saying a lot of words that mean nothing,” and she hits it right on the head—but it feels tired and old, like many of the jokes.
The fish-out-of-water idea—two luddites at a tech mecca—should have been workable, but it often feels like laughing at grandpa because he can’t figure out how to work the remote. It’s a bit too easy.
Add to that Nick and Billy—or Nick, Nicky, Nickelodeon and Bill, Willie, Billiard as those crazy kids slangily call one another—being heroes for teaching the overachieving kids about life by getting them drunk and taking them to a strip club, and you have a “Revenge of the Nerds” with a dollop of “Jersey Shore” thrown in—and the two mix about as well as you might imagine.
The situations, while predictable and often stretched a bit thin, do allow several of the other cast members to shine. As Yoyo, the anxious overachiever Tobit Raphael earns a few laughs and as the nerdy NehaTiya Sircargets a couple of good lines in, as do others, but overall it isn’t a laugh riot.
“The Internship” overdoes it with the Googliness and easy sentiment, and underdoes it with the jokes. Perhaps next time the screenwriterscan Google some better gags.
The new buddy comedy The Internship pairs Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn for the first time since 2005’s Wedding Crashers.
They are still wild and crazy guys, but this time out they are unemployed wild and crazy guys pushed out of their jobs by technology.
Unable to get a foothold in the new media field they take intern jobs at Google.
“We’re looking at some sort of mental Hunger Games against a bunch of genius kids for just a handful of jobs,” says Wilson.
Many movies have used unemployment as the starting point for storytelling.
In Lost in America, rated one of Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies, Albert Brooks plays a successful advertising executive who gets fired for insulting his boss.
Free from the shackles of employment he goes all carpe diem and convinces his wife Linda (Julie Hagerty) to leave her job and explore the country in a Winnebago. When they lose their nest egg on a Las Vegas stop over they reenter the work force as a crossing guard and manager at a Der Wienerschnitzel restaurant, respectively.
As the movie ends they hit the road once again, hoping to reclaim their old jobs and lifestyles.
It would be hard to imagine a more toxic workplace than the real estate office in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Encouragement comes in the form of verbal abuse — most of which can’t be printed in a family newspaper — and a motivational sales contest offering three prizes.
The top seller wins a Cadillac Eldorado.
“Second prize is a set of steak knives,” says Blake (Alec Baldwin). “Third prize is you’re fired.”
Playwright David Mamet based the original play on his experiences working in a real estate office in the 1970s.
Finally, The Full Monty is a comedy that takes a serious look at the effects of unemployment on the individual and the community.
Set in Sheffield, England, it’s the story of six men, most unemployed steel workers, who come up with a unique way to pay the bills.
They decide to form a Chippendale dancer style group, separating themselves from the pack by going “the full monty” and go completely stark naked.
While filming, the actors agreed to go completely nude in front of 400 extras provided they only had to do it once.
They got it in one take, and according to Roger Ebert, the inspiring and revealing final scene “was applauded at the screening I attended.”