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Stop Squandering Will Ferrell

One of comedy's greatest talents has been squandered on a decade of sub-par movies

worst will ferrell movies

Sony Pictures

Will Ferrell can be funny without even trying. The man exudes a simple boyish silliness that can disarm you and then double you over with laughter in one fell swoop. When he does try, you get comedic masterstrokes like Step Brothers, Anchorman and Elf. Unfortunately, Will hasn’t lived up that standard for many years.

Ferrell’s new film, Holmes and Watson, has a trailer that suggests another waste of his tremendous talent. The trailer itself doesn’t seem to think the film is funny: in lieu of a joke, the trailer opens with an extended shot of the titular duo simply… yelling.

If Holmes is a flop, it’ll be a continuation of Ferrell’s long dry spell. 2017’s The House is one of his lowest-rated films. Looking further back, Daddy’s Home and Get Hard have Rotten Tomatoes scores that don’t even add up to the score of one good movie (they have 31% and 28% ratings, respectively). The New York Times called Daddy’s Home “laugh-free” and an “ugly psychological cockfight posing as a family-friendly comedy.” Get Hard musters only a handful of laughs during its misguided spree of prison-rape jokes. The film reads primarily as a chemistry equation conceived by studio executives: let’s pair the box office favorite (Ferrell) with the rising comedy star (Kevin Hart) for a buddy comedy about race.

bad will ferrell movies

‘Daddy’s Home’ (left) has a 31% Rotten Tomatoes score. ‘Get Hard’ is lower.

What once looked like a dry spell including a couple of duds (Semi-Pro, Blades Glory) has extended for over a decade. It now appears that Will Ferrell has simply lost his touch. When was the last great Will Ferrell movie? 2012’s Casa de Mi Padre further enlivened a bold premise (it’s a Spanish-language film) with hilarious visual gags. I think the film is a riot, but I might be the only person to have seen it.

I don’t know who’s to blame for squandering Will Ferrell (producers? studios? Will Ferrell?). I just want it to end. I want this great talent to leave behind a legacy of work that’s more Anchorman than it is Daddy’s Home.

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