Who’s Playing “Yes, And” Today, Will?

Their rage that gives them their powerBecause Will Ferrell is generally good for a laugh, this week’s MSN Movies gallery looks at how he does with on-screen partners — who’s encouraged him to ever-greater heights of absurdity, who’s pulled him down, who’s just been weirdly mismatched, that sort of thing.

I left out Robert Duvall in “Kicking and Screaming” because that wasn’t exactly a partnership sort of thing. Also because, having just seen Duvall knock it out of the park in “Get Low”, it just seemed mean to bring up one of the actor’s least interesting performances. Which I suppose I’ve just done anyway. Oh, well.

I also left out Ferrell’s greatest collaborator, Adam McKay, because he’s a writer and director rather than a proper co-star … though he does turn up on-screen in “The Other Guys“, as the leader of a crew of hobos dedicated to having late-night orgies in Ferrell’s Prius.

As I said: Ferrell’s greatest collaborator.

2 thoughts on “Who’s Playing “Yes, And” Today, Will?”

  1. I pretty much don’t get the whole “immaturity is funny” genre, so I’m not much of a Will Ferrell fan, but you did leave out the one movie of his I actually like – Stranger Than Fiction. Not only does it have one of my favorite romantic lines (“Here, I brought you flours.”), but I liked the interplay between Ferrell and Dustin Hoffman. (I also love Emma Thompson in this movie, but as the omniscient writer, there’s less actual interaction there.)

  2. I love it, too — and it’s pretty much the only Marc Forster movie I enjoy without reservation. But it isn’t, strictly speaking, a Will Ferrell picture, so I left it off the list.

    Ferrell doesn’t traffic in immaturity as much as absurdity, I think; his bluster may spring from a man-child’s insecurity, but the manner in which that bluster is expressed is really fascinating, and the worlds Adam McKay constructs around Ferrell are amazing.

    “Talladega Nights” is a mess, but any scene with Sacha Baron Cohen takes place in a fascinating alternate universe (“I want what any man wants — to retire to Stockholm with my husband and design a currency for dogs and cats to use”), and the set pieces of “Step Brothers” are almost Dadaist in their construction. (Adam Scott told me he spent all his time staring bug-eyed at what Ferrell and McKay were getting away with on the set of a major-studio production.)

    The buddy-cop requirements of “The Other Guys” keep pulling it back into a more conventional mode of comedy, but there are arias of crazy — like the utterly insane but somehow logical argument between Ferrell and Wahlberg over whether a lion could beat a tuna in a fight — that make the whole thing worthwhile.

    In short, “Stranger Than Fiction” is wonderful, but you should still rent “Step Brothers”. And maybe “Anchorman”.

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