To clarify, it’s every Will Ferrell movie where he’s playing an actual role, not a cameo. It couldn’t be a part where — like in, say, Wedding Crashers — if you pulled him out of the entire film it would still function the exact same way. So as Get Hard hits theaters, see where your favorites land.
31. BEWITCHED (2005)
Bad idea (n); see: This adaptation of the 1960s TV show.
30. LAND OF THE LOST (2009)
29. THE PRODUCERS (2005)
The Broadway adaptation of Mel Brooks’ classic theater farce starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane was a monster. So, why not try and do the same thing as a movie? Because lightning never strikes three times.
28. THE SUBURBANS (1999)
Does he even have a line in that trailer?
27. DROWNING MONA (2000)
26. CASA DE MI PADRE (2012)
25. MEN SEEKING WOMEN (1997)
This is an example of a movie that took the most unoriginal movie plot of all time and just ran with it. Three losers bet to see who can find a girl first. It’s like the first movie plot ever made. In Ferrell’s defense, this was his first leading role.
24. THE LADIES MAN (2000)
Favors to friends from old gigs are always good to do, even if they don’t turn out so hot.
23. WINTER PASSING (2005)
Ferrell’s got a wee part in this drama about an actress (Zooey Deschanel) who tries to get a series of valuable letters from her J.D. Salinger-like novelist father (Ed Harris).
22. KICKING & SCREAMING (2005)
Ferrell as soccer coach, shouting at children. Then he learns a lesson. Hugs.
21. A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY (1998)
Remember, this seemed like it was worth everyone’s time at one point.
20. SEMI-PRO (2008)
Is it a ridiculous premise? Yes. Are there some unbelievable characters and some very poorly-written dialogue? Yes. Will you make it laugh seeing Will portray a professional basketball player? Yes.
19. EVERYTHING MUST GO (2010)
High concept dramedy — Ferrell plays a dude who stages a week-long, post-break-up garage sale while living on his lawn and learns to move on. Not bad, per se, just minor.
18. JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (2001)
Straight faces, everyone.
17. MELINDA & MELINDA (2004)
Since every white guy in a Woody Allen movie is basically playing Woody Allen, the barometer is How Well Does Will Ferrell Channel Woody Allen? And not so good. Too tall. (Also, it’s a tertiary Woody Allen movie at best.)
16. DICK (1999)
Remember when Will Ferrell played Bob Woodward?
15. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013)
Sometimes, you can’t go home again. No matter how much you want to.
14. CURIOUS GEORGE (2006)
The Man With the Yellow Hat never sounded so exasperated. Trigger warning: Jack Johnson songs.
13. THE OTHER GUYS (2010)
What if a movie looks like it was funnier to make than it was to watch?
12. THE CAMPAIGN (2012)
Thanks to dumpster fires like The Hangover II and Anchorman 2, it’s easy to develop a little Ferrell/Galifianakis fatigue. But if you can get over your initial reaction of “I have been tricked before” you can settle into a nice little political comedy.
11. STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006)
What if someone was writing your life as it unfolded? That’s the premise behind this post-Truman Show mind-bender, in which Ferrell plays it straight, for the most part, to good effect.
10. SUPERSTAR (1999)
Of all the movies based on SNL characters, this one is in the top third — and Ferrell is a slab of perfection as the object of Mary Katherine Gallagher’s affection.
9. MEGAMIND (2010)
Not the best animated movie Ferrell’s lent his voice to but this one — in which he plays the mega-domed villain — is close.
8. BLADES OF GLORY (2007)
The unrepentant sports douchenozzle-makes-good seemed to be Ferrell’s go-to in the mid-2000s and his rebel figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels definitely fits the bill.
7. TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (2006)
This movie managed to both tap into America’s enduring fascination with NASCAR while also deftly skewering that particular kind of Americana.
6. THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)
Maybe the best movie of 2014 — Oscars be damned — featured Ferrell in gleeful villain mode. At least until the end.
5. ZOOLANDER (2001)
His Mugatu is such an inspired creation that the only reason this isn’t in the top 3 is because the movie isn’t about him.
4. STEP BROTHERS (2008)
“We need an adult who can pull off acting like a child, what actor should we go after?” I wonder if there were even auditions. All of that aside, Step Brothers isn’t perfect but it will go a long way in making you smile.
3. ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004)
Stay classy, San Diego.
2. ELF (2003)
Sometimes, you don’t want irony. You don’t want cynicism. You don’t want sarcasm. You just want someone who says exactly what he things, feels it all on the surface, and pours syrup on everything.
1. OLD SCHOOL (2003)
Matt Shirley contributed to this piece.