Adam McKay’s movie career can be split into two halves, as the director started out making now-classic comedies but has since branched out into directing more serious docudramas. It’s exciting to see what he does next, as he could continue down the path of groundbreaking comedy-drama, return to over-the-top comedy, or even completely reinvent himself.
But so far, his filmography is pretty compelling, as the films range from satires of American culture that take aim at Nascar to dramas about former Vice President Dick Cheney. And while his collaborations with Will Ferrell might not be the highest-rated films in the world, they’re still hugely entertaining.
9 Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004) – 6.1
The great attraction of Presenter: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is that it is composed mainly of improvised conversations. And Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell and others improvised so much that there were hours of alternate lines to choose from when editing the film together. This resulted in The lost movie which has the same principle as Presenterbut most of the dialogues are completely different.
However, the one-liners and off-the-cuff jokes are essentially the B-sides, and there’s a reason they didn’t make it into the proper theatrical release. While many jokes in The lost movie are funny, they don’t hit as hard as the now-iconic lines from the 2004 film, and some of them don’t land at all. The lost movie is basically a patchwork of deleted scenes, and it really is for the fans more than anything.
8 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) – 6.3
Nine years after the comedy classic, Presenter 2: the legend continues expands on the world the original built, and this time it’s set in the 1980s. Much like the original film was a commentary on workplace sexism in the ’70s, the sequel turned to news broadcasting trends in the 80s as a premise.
The film saw Channel 4’s news team take over 24-hour news delivery, and while the jokes don’t land quite as well as its predecessor, there’s still plenty to love. Harrison Ford’s appearance as a stoic, disgruntled network owner who hates Ron Burgundy is a genius cast. And while that might be unlikely given the fallout of Will Ferrell and McKay, it does leave fans craving a third film set in the ’90s.
seven Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) – 6.6
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby came out of the heels of the first Presenter film, only it didn’t have quite the same reception. The film chronicles the rise and fall of a Nascar driver who is engrossed in fame and the fortune of his fame, and although it seems fairly derivative of the 2004 press crew comedy that preceded, he is so underrated.
Sadly, Talladega Nights lives in the shadow of Presenterand while he made a lot more money than Presenter at the worldwide box office, few people remember it. The film is another satire of American culture and marks the first time that Ferrell and John C. Reilly have starred side by side, being the birth of an incredible comedy duo.
6 The Other Guys (2010) – 6.7
Following Talladega Nights and Half brothersMcKay and Ferrell were getting into the groove of making some really good weird couple comedies. the other guys was the third film to follow this formula, but this time it was an all-out action-comedy.
The film pulls out all the stops, as it has supporting roles from Hollywood heavyweights like Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, and Michael Keaton. But more interestingly, he sees Ferrell as an action hero, or as close to an action hero as the goofy comedy actor can get. The result is one of the best buddy cop comedies out there, and it’s yet another movie that has fans dying for a sequel.
5 Stepbrothers (2008) – 6.9
Half brothers is one of those films that not everyone came to tea for, but for the audience they love, they love it. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly thrive on each other, and while Holmes and Watson can make the public think differently, their batting average is incredible, and they always bring out the best in each other.
Half brothers is the best example of this, as they play two grown men who have been pampered their entire lives, which gives them such a unique and very childlike perspective on the world. The film is endlessly quotable and has a wonderful musical number at the end, showing audiences that Ferrell has a surprisingly great set of tips on him.
4 Don’t Look Up (2021) – 7.2
Don’t look up could have divided the critics, and some people think that Don’t look up is a two-hour meme, but it was still nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and is well-loved by mainstream audiences. The recently released Netflix film is a satire on celebrity, how the general public consumes news, and politics.
While many of them can be overly nosey and judgmental, the film’s star power is impossible to resist. There are so many hilarious characters that are clearly influenced by outrageous real-life politicians and celebrities, and it blends sci-fi and realism brilliantly.
3 Vice (2018) – 7.2
After directing several Ferrell-directed comedies, Adam McKay reinvented himself with comedy-drama The big court. But the director doubled down on his approach to docudrama and the fourth wall with Vice. Just like with Don’t look up, Vice was much better received by the general public than by critics.
The film is about Dick Cheney, who was the Vice President of the United States under President George Bush. And it’s full of fourth-wall-breaking trickery, whether it’s Cheney breaking into Shakespearean dialogue, the movie pretending to end halfway through, or Cheney giving a monologue straight to the camera.
2 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) – 7.2
Prior to 2004, Adam McKay was the editor of Saturday Night Livewhich could explain why Presenter: The Legend of Ron Burgundy looks like a 90-minute SNL skit, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Presenter is the best movie on newscasters and has become as much of a classic as Elf.
Although Ferrell was in the public eye for a while at this point, his profile grew exponentially thanks to the film, and it almost works as a template for every Ferrell film that has followed since. movies like Blade of Glory and Eurovision Song Contest owe their success and even their existence to the 2004 film.
1 The Big Short (2015) – 7.8
On paper, it seems almost impossible to make an entertaining film about the 2008 financial crisis, especially one that makes it easy for the general public to understand. But McKay pulled it off effortlessly by having Margot Robbie explain it to the audience while drinking champagne in a bath, and Anthony Bourdain explains it while also cooking Selina Gomez a meal.
The big court is endlessly re-watchable, but it shouldn’t be, and it established McKay’s style of docudramas that also break the fourth wall. Few other directors have switched genres as successfully as McKay with the 2015 film.
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