Thursday, March 27, 2008

When I Hated Will Ferrell

Sean Kleefeld's post about his lack of love for Iron Man brought up the topic of "hating" certain superheroes.

I really cannot think of any superhero I "hate." But I did, at one time, hate Will Ferrell. And he's sort of a superhero.

I remember the distressed look on my friends' faces as I announced, during a discussion of Saturday Night Live, that I hated Will Ferrell. They looked at me as if I killed a puppy. A very cute, oversized, especially hairy puppy.

Why do we hate on certain figures? What drove me to use the word "hate" in conjunction with Will Ferrell?

Well, for starters, that damn cheerleading sketch. Not funny, never was funny, not even when David Duchovny was on it. And David Duchovny makes everything funny.

Also, I never quite cottoned to his character "Mustafa" from Austin Powers, though I have substantially more sympathy for his many trials and misfortunes now.

Furthermore, while he was ostensibly the co-star of the SNL movie Superstar, it was the oft-ignored Harland Williams who really deserved more credit in that film. If it wasn't for Ferrell, Harland Williams might have been America's top bumbling funnyman. Things like that just keep me up at night.

What turned the tide for me on Will Ferrell? His depiction of the loveable manchild in the movie Elf. With Elf, I realized that only bad people hated Will Ferrell. Ferrell was indeed this generation's Dick Van Dyke, or even Tom Poston.

After that, thanks to comedy classics like Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and that ice-skating film with Napoleon Dynamite, I became officially converted to the Cult of Will. I felt ashamed of the hate I once expressed for Ferrell, and that anonymous Wordpress blog I used to write called "Why I Hate Will Ferrell" where I obsessively focused on his body hair and close-set eyes. I took that blog down right away; if I could have burned it, I would have. St. Paul in Damascus much?

So that is how I stopped hating and learned to love Will Ferrell.

Now I hate John C. Reilly, because he is a punk-ass.


  1. You can't hate John C. Reilly! He's Dr. Steve Brule.

  2. I would've hoped you'd love Will Ferrel for Celebrity Jeopardy, but yeah that cheerling sketch was never funny.

  3. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Yeah, I stopped hating him when he started completely divorcing himself from his SNL stuff. Just really not funny, doubly so when it was in movie form. Now I laugh out loud at all of his comedies and Stranger than Fiction is one of my favorite movies.

  4. The first SNL sketch I remember he being in was one where he shouted "Get Off the Shed!" to unseen kids in the middle of a conversation with his adult friends. It was, at the time, the single most unfunny SNL sketch I'd ever seen.

    He's gotten better, though it took me a while to realize it too.

  5. oh gosh, i like "elf" a whole lot. which is why i think iron man will RULE.

  6. I was surprised by how much I liked 'Stranger Than Fiction' (a lot) and I'd like to see him in more semi-dramatic roles.

    Also, let's not forget 'Zoolander.' Mugatu invented the keyboard necktie!

  7. I fell in love with Ferrell in Zoolander. Mugattu is like, the best part of that movie. Then again, I don't get SNL, so I have never seen any of his old sketches, so maybe that's why.

    But John C.Reilly? He was lovely in Chicago! *sobs* ;)

  8. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. John C. Reilly rocks.

  9. Of course, there are those of us who don't "hate" Will Ferrell, but merely find him an unfunny juvenile with the charm and wit of cow dung.

    Some of these same people don't "hate" Iron Man either, but sometimes throw the term around for the sake of stirring the virtual pot. ;)

  10. SNL became invalid in general once it lasted too long and became what it set out to strike back against, namely staid, cookie cutter teevee comedy. Sure, I'll grant you its occasional moments of brilliance since back in the days — virtually anything featuring Eddie Murphy, the vastly underrated John Lovitz when he wasn't doing that tired "liar guy" bit, the occasional Wayne's World, Robert DeNiro as a community theater Peter Pan, and of course TV Funhouse — but I haven't been able to stomach it on a regular basis since Eddie Murphy left. Jimmy Fallon? Niggress, please...

    That said, I have seen installments here and there over the years, perhaps three new episodes per year, and I hate nearly everyone who's set foot on that stage since the early 1990's. Chris Farley's bits, with a few notable exceptions, basically boiled down to "Look at me! I'm a fat guy! Nyuk!" and the whole show was so goddamned predictable that I wanted to shoot my roomates in the face for demanding that it run without fail every Saturday night (thankfully I now live on my own).

    Will Ferrell didn't appeal to me at all because he seemed to be trying waaaaaaaay too hard, and no amount of earnestness could make that cheerleader mess funny. Dead on arrival, that sketch was about as funny as a children's cancer ward, and as per SNL's formula it was beaten into the ground for no good reason.

    However, once Ferrell hit Hollywood I figured he might amount to something if given the right material and director, and while he did waste his time — and ours — in a bunch of painfully unfunny appearances, he did get it together with his roles in ZOOLANDER and ELF. I'm curious to see how LAND OF THE LOST turns out, though...

  11. Sellout :)

    All kidding aside, the man's only acting mode seems to be the crazy-eyed manchild, with that grin that looks like he's about to go for your neck.

    Ferrell reminds me of the guy from the high school football team who tries out for the school play, based on his ability to make his teammates laugh with his stock repertoire of silly voices. I found out not long ago that he had played high school football, and got into acting later. So I was close.

    The only movie I've liked him in was Elf, where his lack of restraint was downright beneficial to the character. A stroke of genius there by Jon Favreau, if a bit on the level of Courtney Love in The People Vs. Larry Flynt.

    The rest of his movies I studiously avoid, so much so that I almost walked out of Wedding Crashers.

  12. Now that I think about it, there was one SNL that I saw - I don't quite remember when but it was around the mid 90's - which was, if not funny, at least well writen. It was made in the same style as medicine comercials, showing parents worrying about children. Only this time, the parents were worrying about children doing things that weren't 'gender-appropiate'. Girls playing rough sports, boys making flower cookies, and so on. I don't remember the name of the medicine, but just when I was going to groan at a bad punchline, they said the tagline: "Because the problem is in you, not in them." Or something of the sort.

    And that's about the only SNL sketch I remember.

  13. No! I can't believe you hate John C. Reilly! I'm very disappointed and sad now.

    My favorite line in Elf is "I like smiling! Smiling is my favorite!"

  14. There was one article online I read where they said that Will Ferrell is only funny when he's got a wig on. Off the top of my head, I'd agree with this.

    Bewitched was a pain for me to watch. Not even Stephen Colbert saved the experience for me.

    In general, the type of character Ferrell pulls off well is the sort of wise-ass, smug, egocentric but knows nothing kind of guy.

    (These days it's sorta hard for actors not to be typecast in certain roles, but at least they'd be specialized. I think.)

  15. Y'know what this post needs?

    More cow bell.

  16. More cowbell!

    I mostly like Will’s stuff. Not everything, but comedy’s tough. I like him more when he’s not being gross – except when I like when he’s being gross.

  17. the bit that turned will ferrell around for me was his Vote Bush impersonation. also, the Architect parody from matrix reloaded. sweet stuff.

  18. I've liked Ferrel since Anchorman (and yes, Other Rich, Stranger than Fiction was surprisigly good).

    But John C Reilly outclasses him as an actor - just look at Boogie Nights or Magnolia. The man's pure class.

  19. I had no real opinion of him other than I liked him in Elf and Undeclared and avoided him in all his dumb comedies, but now that I know he's going to ruin Land of the Lost with his tiresome 70s kitsch, I hate him. Hate. Him.

  20. I cannot believe no one has mentioned "The Landlord." I love this video.

    I have the exact same humor he does, so I really dig Will. ANCHORMAN was a scream and I'm sorry, but I so loved the GET OFF THE SHED sketch.

    I love how he accepts the lunacy of the sketch, be it good or bad... he'll follow it through. To me, being a former standup and improve person, seeing the idea through is a very brave thing to do.

    You have to ignore the fear that your audience just isn't getting it. And on SNL, there were many of those moments. After he was gone, Jimmy Fallon ripped-off Ferrell's delivery so much, it was amazing Fallon lasted as long as he did.

  21. Anonymous5:43 PM

    John C. Reilly is really too good to become the new Funny Stupid Guy.