2015 Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year: Will Ferrell

Introduction

This award is one I will present annually to the actor, writer, director or any combination thereof who has in my estimation the best year. The only real criteria is that they have multiple credits. The credits can be two responsibilities on the same film or more than one film. The idea came to me based on Robert Downey, Jr.’s incredible 2008. He was the first winner and the name stuck.

2015 Entertainer of the Year: Will Ferrell

Sometimes it’s next to impossible to pick this award and not confuse it with a Lifetime Achievement award. Though the main difference is, even though this is also a body-of-work trophy it’s awarded for a year’s work irrespective of the accomplishments made in prior years.

Yes, Will Ferrell has been at it longer than many of us care to realize right now and I’ve been a fan for quite some time and think he has had very few misses along the way. However, this year there was a lot of stuff, all throughout the year, and it was all hilarious; at least his involvement was.

I like to be inclusive of comedy, and horror, and any other genres the awards generally disregard, so those are just some reasons this funny man is honored this year. Now, for some more specifics about his 2015….

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First, there was Get Hard, as with any projects he does with Adam McKay behind the scenes there is silliness and farce in equal measure. There’s much topical humor about the world of high finance aside from broad generalizations and stereotypes exploited for comedic value.

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A Deadly Adoption really should have sealed it any, but these awards are ones that kind of occur to me rather than being ones that I consciously plot more often than not. First, this film was a secret project. It was then a surprise announcement as a Lifetime Movie mocking Lifetime Movies, mysteriously pulled from its premiere then rescheduled. It then received a drubbing from those not prepared for the film’s tongue-so-firmly-planted-in-cheek. Will McKinley’s take on it echoes my sentiments on it perfectly. It’s very effective, funny when the absurdity hits you with its subtlety and marks the 2nd straight year a TV film has been included in the BAM Awards.

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Ferrell Takes the Field is Ferrell taking his love of baseball to a hilarious extreme to help a charity, create a documentary and promote the MLB by making appearances at 10 positions in real Spring Training games. It aired on HBO and is well worth your time if you like him or baseball or both.

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Shortly after that I discovered that perhaps his most hilariously insane character Orson Welles caricature (my reading) Eric Jonrosh had The Spoils Before Dying on IFC. I was able to stream the first two so far. It doesn’t start as strongly as The Spoils of Babylon but he’s as funny as ever.

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Then came Daddy’s Home, a re-teaming with Mark Wahlberg and a return to more family-friendly fare where he’s more successful than most comedians.

The cherry on top of his 2015 was his unannounced return to SNL in a recent cold open as Dubya.

Clearly it was a great year for him, and one thing Wahlberg said in his junket/circuit interviews was true, to paraphrase he said “His comedy doesn’t come from a dark place, he just genuinely wants to me make people laugh,” and in 2015 he made me laugh quite a lot.

 

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Review – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Introduction

This is a post that is a repurposing of an old-school Mini-Review Round-Up post. As stated here I am essentially done with running multi-film review posts. Each film deserves its own review. Therefore I will repost, and at times add to, old reviews periodically. Enjoy!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman 2 has been perhaps one of the more unrealistically anticipated sequels in recent years. What I mean by that, and I don’t claim to be not among them; is that over the years the reputation of Anchorman grew such that perhaps the bar started being raised a bit much.

My own experience with the first Anchorman was not love-at-first-sight. Sure, I laughed. I laughed a lot. However, I felt that the feminist theme while appreciated was handled clumsily and overtly. Yes, it’s a silly movie but the rest of it felt far more assured. My appreciation of it grew over time.

Fast-forward to this Anchorman and one thing that stood out before I saw it was the extra running time. Then you see Judd Apatow’s name attached and you wonder if it might be tremendously bloated. At nearly two hours as opposed to just scraping past 90 minutes last time. I don’t think it did feel extraneous, just a touch too much perhaps. I also think the commentary on corporate synergy and news media, while very on the head is more neatly folded in. Thankfully, there were also many new gags, and a lot more weirdness, as the riffs on the old jokes that worked because they were new didn’t really hit it.

To be brief, I didn’t expect a second coming of Ron Burgundy, he’s a character so perfectly buffoonish you can’t manufacture the surprise of first meeting him all over again; but I did think I’d be glad to see him again in a new story. I was and the fact that this story had point to make loudly that had more do with the modern day than the era it was set in is fine by me too.

8/10

How Silly is The Campaign, Really?

I made a comment after seeing The Campaign over the summer that it was a silly skewering of campaigning and American politics in general. As I rewatched it, after this year’s election, it suddenly seemed less silly. Granted there’s comedic exaggeration but some of the incidents in the campaign weren’t that far off. And in keeping with my vow to do more off-beat pieces and not always reviews, allow me to take the silliness just slightly more seriously than I did before.

“You can call me dad.”

This ad, while hilarious, struck me as one of the largest exaggerations when I watched it. However, when Tagg Romney took it upon himself to stick himself into the election saying he wanted to “take a swing at him [Obama],” then this scene seemed not so crazy anymore.

“I spoke last.”

As hilariously insightful as this line Ferrell delivers is, I never thought it’d be quite so prophetic seeing as how after the first debate Jim Lehrer was roundly criticized for losing control of it and Mitt Romney was cited as the most frequent abuser of debate decorum, essentially wanting to get in the last word regardless; even if it was as inane as “I spoke last.”

The Sex Tape

This campaign was devoid of sex scandals, and as many sex tapes as exist, there’s yet to really be one that incriminates a politician, to my knowledge. However, sex scandals are clearly nothing new politics. Even before his eventual impeachment Bill Clinton had to fend off marital infidelity rumors during his first presidential campaign.

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Through all the discussions about tax codes one issue that popped up, and was only really ever of concern to voters who paid close attention, was relations with China; namely who did or did not invest in Chinese firms, and who would or would not be tough on their trading practices. It’s a far cry from the scenario the film paints, but perhaps a portent of one of the crucial foreign policy concerns in coming years.

“Is he an Al-Qaeda?”

It will never be a stretch in my mind to make any joke about fear-mongering in American politics. This is not only a jab and poor grammar and syntax but also one about baseless accusations, trying to show your opponent in a negative light, and as “not one of us.”

Conclusion

The aforementioned accusations is levied by Ferrel’s character who plays the frequently-unopposed Democratic incumbent, so the film is pretty fair and doesn’t play into stereotypes that the left and right have about one another whenever possible in making its points, which as silly as they are rendered, it is saying a bit more than you might think upon first glance.