During our discussion of The Campaign in Episode 6, I said I was looking forward to the new comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Like I said in the show, some people are tired of Will Ferrell’s shtick. I’ve heard people say they think he hasn’t had a good movie since Anchorman or Talladega Nights. (Anchorman fans should be happy about the sequel coming next year.) I mentioned, however, that I liked Step Brothers, Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro, which have Rotten Tomatoes audience scores of 68, 66 and 41 percent respectively.
I should have also mentioned that I think Ferrell’s best work of the last several years came in his more serious (although still humorous) films Stranger Than Fiction and Everything Must Go. I strongly recommend both as long as you realize that they aren’t going to be like his goofier comedies.
In 2006’s Stranger Than Fiction, Ferrell plays a man who starts to hear a voice in his head narrating his life as if it was in a book, and as it turns out, it is. It’s a clever and at times poignant film also featuring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman.
Everything Must Go, released in 2010, features Ferrell as a recovering alcoholic who relapses and gets fired from his job. His wife leaves him after putting all of his belongings in the front yard and locking him out of the house. He ends up living in the yard and trying to sell everything to scrounge up some money, and the act of letting go of all his possessions is more than a little symbolic. Ferrell’s protagonist is flawed, but I still found myself rooting for him. Think of his character in Old School, but a little bit older, slightly more mature and in a more serious film.
Compared to Ferrell, who’s been well known for the better part of two decades since he first appeared on Saturday Night Live, Zach Galifianakis is still a relative newcomer–at least to me. I saw him in The Hangover, which I liked less than most people did, and I haven’t seen The Hangover 2 (just seemed like more of the same to me), but I do like him in some of his lesser known work including his appearances on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which Ferrell also cameoed in. I also watched his stand-up film Live at the Purple Onion after Andy and Cody recommended it in Episode 6, and I’ll add my enthusiastic endorsement to that one.
Ferrell and Galifianakis have appeared together in at least one other film, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, although I haven’t seen that so I’m uncertain whether they appear on screen at the same time. (I’m planning to see it sometime soon.) In any case this is the first time they’re teaming up in a major movie, and I think it’s long overdue.