When it comes to comic actors, there are only a few working in the business today who are as funny, creative, and downright exciting to watch as ex-SNL cast member and genius comedian Will Ferrell is. His unique charm shines through in pretty much all his film roles, and I enjoy him best when he plays stupid, immature people who act way too childish, always getting caught up in situations that they can’t handle. Thankfully, the majority of his films follow such characters, and though that might sound repetitive, there’s a little something (personality-wise, maybe) that separates all of his most appreciated roles from each other.
Although he is hilarious at his best, I’ve noticed that there’s always a gap between two gut-bustingly funny pictures in his filmography wherein he acts in something stale, cliched, and/or completely unfunny, even being horrendous at times. That being said, I’ve enjoyed the pictures where he serves as a writer very much, and I think that may be because no one truly understands the potential Ferrell has other than the man himself. Here is the list of top 12 Will Ferrell movies.
12. Blades of Glory (2007)
There isn’t anything different in the story of ‘Blades of Glory’, which follows your average comedy plot wherein two rivals are given a situation that pressures them into teaming up and coping with their differences. The film follows two ice skaters banned from taking part in an Olympic event after a momentary brawl occurs between them, and a loophole found in the rules persuades the duo to go against their will and join the competition once again as a pair. Though verily flawed and unfunny at times, the picture manages to offer its audiences an enjoyable enough experience to have them smile while leaving the theater after, and the entire credit for this goes to both Ferrell and his leading co-star Jon Heder, who form a sort of homoerotic relation with each other throughout the runtime of the movie, leading to a lot of laughs and memorable moments. The picture is quite entertaining for its extravagant depiction of events alone.
11. Dick (1999)
Will Ferrell’s pictures almost specialize in displaying humor of the most idiotic and nonsensical nature, and when he’s at his best, he is usually able to make it good. ‘Dick’ is a film where his role isn’t of much prominence (given this was a short while after his SNL fame and he was just starting to make it as an actor) but I think he’s the funniest element of the entire thing. It primarily focuses on two girls who, by a little bit of luck and accident, meet with president Nixon during the early ’70s. There is no doubting that this picture is a “teen flick” following many of its norms, but it is so bright, energetic, and hilarious that it is impossible to not be charmed by ‘Dick’. Sourcing some entertaining performances from the main and supporting cast members, the picture – despite the fact that little of it makes any real sense – will have you rolling on the floor throughout its runtime. The only reason I’ve placed it this low on the list is because Ferrell’s performance is of comparatively less importance.
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
‘Talladega Nights’ is a film that works primarily due to its extremely funny cast including Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baren Cohen who portray NASCAR drivers. The story follows a driver better than the rest of the pack (Ferrell) and his best friend (Reilly) as the former is challenged by a Formula One riding Frenchman whose skill gives birth to a rivalry between the players. This film is pure comedy, paced just right to keep it entertaining for most of the runtime. Though not very memorable with the way it has been executed, I think that gives it an added advantage as it can be rewatched multiple times and be as fresh on each additional viewing as it was on the first. Ferrell’s character here is very similar to some of his most popular, and that I feel can make the whole thing come off as unoriginal. A couple of scenes drag and hinder the experience (as well as the laughs), but overall, I found this to be a hilarious ‘feel good’ piece of cinema.
9. Megamind (2010)
In ‘Megamind’ Will Ferrell plays the role of a villain. The animated feature is led by Megamind, a bad guy who succeeds in defeating the man who should’ve been (according to moral standards) the hero of our story, a superhero named Metro Man. The loss of this rivalry leaves Megamind aimless and confused, and we follow his subsequent life as he tries to exist without an enemy. Being both funny and heartfelt, ‘Megamind’ is a picture that I think both adults and kids can enjoy. Though some of its humor is stale and the plot goes south nearing the third act, the message is prevalent throughout the whole thing, and it will leave you entertained. As far as I’m concerned, it isn’t worth multiple viewings, but several others cite Ferrell’s role as one of his very best and the film one of the greatest non-Disney animated productions.
8. Everything Must Go (2010)
‘Everything Must Go’ is a film that showcases Ferrell’s talents as a dramatic character actor, as he takes on the role of Nick Halsey, a man recently fired from his job and kicked out of his house by his wife, forcing him to live on his front porch. The movie bases itself on the relationship that grows between Nick and Kenny, a boy whose mother is busy taking care of an elderly woman, giving him the freedom to roam around as he pleases. On the side, it also details the connection Nick forms with the woman across the street. A few subtleties bring out a side of the film that makes it all the more pleasant to watch, and Ferrell gives one of the most memorable performances of his career, rarely making it comedic. The film overall lacks a satisfactory third act and delivers no emotional payoff, but it is an interesting watch for those who are willing to see a completely different side of the comic genius.
7. The Other Guys (2010)
Will Ferrell hasn’t done many action films, but when he does, I think it’s a given that the picture ends up being a whole lot of fun. ‘The Other Guys’ is a buddy cop comedy with the central duo being played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Adam McKay is a filmmaker who clearly understands visual and verbal humor, both of which he has employed here rather intelligently. The film deals with the members of the force whom you don’t expect to see in pictures such as these – the ones with a desk job, managing papers, files, and other uninteresting things. Two of these officers get the lead on a sensational case before anyone else on the team, which persuades them to take care of business themselves. The wild, crazy action that fills up the screen following all of this is near insane, but it works because of the light-hearted way in which Wahlberg and Ferrell handle their roles.
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6. Old School (2003)
Many have, time and again, claimed ‘Old School’ to be Will Ferrell’s funniest picture. Though I wouldn’t agree completely, I’d be lying if I said this didn’t have me on the floor. It takes the popular raunchy cheap-joke style made popular through the comedies of the ’70s and the ’80s and executes it in a way that makes the experience rather fresh. Having to do with a couple of adults (each one of which is a stereotypical caricature, but done well) form a fraternity close to their alma mater in order to legally stay in one of their houses. Thus ensues a laugh-out-loud comedy dealing with friendship, nostalgia, bongs, beers, whippits, and loud music, and its a complete blast from start to finish. It’s the kind of film I see myself never getting bored of, and the one I’d pick to watch with friends when we’re looking for a comedy that helps us wail with laughter, all the while calming us down.
5. The Lego Movie (2014)
Right from the catchiest song in animation film history, ‘The Lego Movie’ has it all: an interesting premise, memorable characters, a well written script, and a whole lotta laughs. It’s one of those comedies that have its gags lying in absolute nonsense that you can’t help but gush out a couple chuckles. To start off, the film is beautiful looking, and its story is both touching and heartfelt. Will Ferrell voices the main antagonist, and also has a scene wherein he plays (in non-animated live version) a boy’s father. The humor is both adult and child friendly, which is something that not a lot of animated pictures can boast about even today. I was rather skeptical before watching this picture for the first time, since movies that revolve around a product had almost never went well up until then. I guess in a lot of ways, ‘The Lego Movie’ is something of a game-changer as well. All in all, it’s pretty awesome.
4. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
I don’t think I’ve seen a film as self-aware of its own absurdity as ‘Anchorman’. It follows a couple of characters, all working for the same news network, and all a bit insane in their own unique ways. Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, a man who happens to be a little too sure of himself, acting sexist, racist, and downright ill-mannered every chance he gets. He is the top-rated newsman in the broadcasting, in a time when males dominated TV news, and the picture follows him and his team as they are challenged by an ambitious and energetic female face who comes to work for their network. I honestly can’t say what about this film isn’t funny – each line spoken is hilarious, and each action deserves a laugh of its own. Though actors like Steve Carell and Paul Rudd bring some of their best work to the table, it’s Ferrell’s character that went on to become the most memorable, to the point where it has since become his best-known work.
3. Zoolander (2001)
Another picture in which Will Ferrell takes on the role of a villain, ‘Zoolander’ is about a bunch of clueless people doing stupid things that they aren’t entirely sure of. Ben Stiller leads the film as a fashion model and icon who gets pulled into a dark ploy involving political assassinations and such, and for most of the movie, he is completely oblivious to it all. What makes this picture work, and why I like it more than all the films mentioned previously on this list is the sole reason that it feels like a risk-taker. Its strange sense of humor is so idiotic, but it clicks at just the right moments, making me laugh hard on every line of dialogue, every action, and of course, every look. Ferrell’s role in particular is one that is interesting. Pulled off in a surreal costume and executed in as fashionable a style as possible, the character of Mugatu went on to become a meme as well as an iconic performance in Ferrell’s career.
2. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
‘Stranger Than Fiction’ is a film that makes you think and feel. In a lot of ways, it is a fantasy, but the way it has been executed grounds it in this warped version of what we know as reality. This picture most definitely has Will Ferrell’s most dramatic performance, as an IRS agent whose style of leading life tends to fall into the repetitive and mundane, all the way until one day when he is woken up to the sound of a woman’s voice narrating his life. Crisp and to the point in every word it utters about his day, the man begins to finally worry about it when it utters something about his “imminent death”. This is a beautiful film, one that manages to stay entertaining throughout, aided by a wonderful screenplay and immersive story. I believe this is the best direction in any Ferrell film that I have seen, and for that reason along with the originality of this brilliant plot, I consider it to be one of Ferrell’s finest.
1. Elf (2003)
‘Elf’ is Will Ferrell’s best film, because in it, his talents are explored to their fullest, and he gives what is arguably the most entertaining performance of his entire career. The 2003 comedy has to do with a man who was raised among elves (and believes himself to be one despite some very obvious differences – an irregularly large growth spurt for example) and his journey to the United States made with the purpose of discovering his true identity. Ferrell completely transforms into this character, and enunciates every line of dialogue his character has to say with just the right tone and expression that is required. The story is flat out nuts and unbelievably hilarious, but it also has a heart. In every sense of the term a ‘Christmas movie’, ‘Elf’ is a joy to watch and an unforgettable experience. It was my introduction to Ferrell’s filmography, and I’m so glad that I was able to start with his greatest achievement as an actor.
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