Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Double-Barrel Will Ferrell

Last week, the Netflix queue kicked out Blades of Glory and Stranger Than Fiction. Some quick commentary:

The farther that Ferrell falls from the idiotic comic apex (and I mean that in a good way) of Anchorman, the less likely it is that I'll include his next movie on my watch list. There are a few good laughs, but Ferrell's white trash ice skater, "Chazz Michael Michaels" was a one-note joke stretched to its limits by a thin, thin plot.

What made Anchorman work for me was the supporting cast. Everyone played well off of Ferrell's "Ron Burgundy", while the film reveled in its absurdity by having the characters act oblivious to it. Blades... tries a little too hard to recapture that magic with Jon Heder's effeminate doe-eyed "Jimmy MacElroy", who is neither funny nor even "pathetically sympathetic". There's an incestuous subplot with a brother and sister who play the cartoonish skating villains and "Pam" from The Office whores up her wardrobe a bit (Aaron approves), but this flick still ain't worth your time.

Segue!

MAKE time for Stranger Than Fiction. I cannot get across how much I loved this movie. I seem to remember m'man Joe Reid including it on his short list for predicted "Best Picture" Oscar nods about a year ago and I'm floored that it was all but ignored come awards time (Ferrell did win a Golden Globe for it, though).

Everyone I've talked to (who hasn't seen it) either (1) thought it was another "Will Ferrell Movie" ™ or (2) was put off by the premise: an unexceptional man living an unexceptional life suddenly hears the voice of a narrator to his life.

Just a phenomenal performance by Ferrell who nails the physical presence and emotional nuances of an average man wrestling with surreal circumstances. The supporting cast is equally enjoyable with Emma Thompson's author/narrator able to relay eccentricity through more than wild-eyes and uncombed hair. Dustin Hoffman appears as a college professor who helps unravel the mystery behind all of this. Ooh, and can't forget Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's a potential love interest for Ferrell's "Harold Crick" character, if she can overlook the whole "Crick is her tax auditor" hang-up.

The dialogue is terrifically authentic and the pacing is perfect, as Harold Crick's life is turned upside down, which, interestingly enough, presents the first opportunity for Crick to actually have a life.

My only beef, initially, was with the ending. But, with an additional viewing, it ultimately rings truer than the alternative path it could've just as easily traveled.

See. This. (Expletive). Movie.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

Agreed. I had been eagerly waiting for the movie for I think 3 years, ever since I heard the plot when the studio bought it. I became more excited when Emma Thompson was cast as the author. I damn near shit a brick when Will Ferrell got cast. So I had monster expectations, and I was not disappointed.

Joe said...

Dude, you have no idea how psyched I am to see you loved this movie. I was kind of the cheese standing alone on this movie last year -- a whole lot of critics and movie bloggers really didn't think much of it, but I stand by how awesome I thought it was. This totally makes up for your refusal to watch Reaper.

Anonymous said...

Great movie. Good call. No disrespect to you or the guys who've commented, but try and find the Roger Ebert review for it (just go to Yahoo Movies and click on "critics"). He pretty much echoes your sentiment right up to the your take on the ending.