Will Anchorman 2 Bring Will Ferrell's Career Back From the Brink?

May 28th, 2012

Once upon a time, Will Ferrell was considered one of the funniest men on the planet. Weekly viewers of Saturday Night Live tuned in to watch his zany impersonations and over the top comedic performances, and he did not disappoint. When he broke free to star in his own films, legions of fans followed close behind as he came out with hit films such as "Elf" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." For a span of several years, Ferrell was on top of the world as a comedic performer.

Then, something happened. There was no monumental or life changing moment that derailed Ferrell's career in a single swoop. The fall of Will Ferrell is something that happened much more gradually. He released one box office flop, then another, and then another. Fans began wondering where the spark had gone. Every character Ferrell played seemed to have been cut from the same mold to the point that it became difficult to differentiate between them. It was almost as if he was making the same movie every other year. The numbers at the box office reflected Ferrell's waning popularity. Where "Anchorman" earned over $80 million at the box office worldwide, his more recent films grossed far less impressive numbers. "Semi Pro," for instance, earned a paltry $30 million.

Most would admit that the problem doesn't seem to lie in Will Ferrell himself. He's as talented as he ever was, and in less comedic roles, such as the one he portrayed in "Stranger than Fiction," he has had the chance to really show off his acting chops. Ferrell has excellent timing and is a master at improvisation, both on screen and on stage. It's his natural zaniness and enthusiasm that endured him to fans in the first place.

What went wrong? The decline in Ferrell's box office success is a combination of choosing uninteresting roles and bad luck. It isn't necessarily that he didn't do a good job in the roles he chose to play, but rather that the roles themselves were not funny. How many times can one watch Will Ferrell play a pompous idiot who needs a reality check? While this concept might have been funny in one movie, it gets stale after a whole slew of them. Part of Ferrell's appeal on Saturday Night Live was his willingness to take on a wide range of characters while adding his own brand of comedy to each role.

Not all of the blame can be placed on Ferrell for his most recent box office flops. While he did choose the roles he played, blame should also be placed on the writers who created the storylines and scripts, as well as on the production teams. It takes numerous people to make a movie a success and just as many to make it a failure, so Ferrell did not act alone.
Fortunately for Will Ferrell's diehard fans, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. "Anchorman Two: The Legend Continues" has been announced, and is set for production in 2013. This may be the boost Ferrell needs to reclaim his place as one of America's favorite funny men. That doesn't mean the road will be easy. The second incarnation of Ron Burgundy will have a lot to live up to in the eyes of the original film's fans. While Ferrell will reprise his beloved role as anchorman Ron Burgundy, it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to breathe the same life into the character.

On a positive note, other top comedic actors have already signed on as costars of the new adaptation. Steve Carrell, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and David Keochner are all rumored to be members of the ensemble. The varying comedic styles of Ferrell, Carrell, and Rudd will easily lead to the same big laughs provided by the first film. In terms of talent, the movie should be a raging success. The question is whether Ferrell's former fans will give him one more chance by making the trek to theaters.

Overall, the fate of Will Ferrell's career doesn't rest in Ron Burgundy's hands alone. While the newest "Anchorman" film may give his reputation a much needed boost, it will be his follow-up films that really decide whether he can reclaim his former popularity. Now is the time for Ferrell to seriously consider the direction his career should take and to choose roles that better reflect what he really tries to accomplish with each film: making people laugh.