Will Ferrell: The Kiss of Death for Any Film?

Mister D: Just for the record, I think Will is extremely talented and funny…this a review of the new movie, “Old School”


Frat Boys Regress And Return To “Old School” For Sophomoric Hijinx
By Kam Williams
TBWT Contributor
Article Dated 2/19/2003

For years, I have castigated Saturday Night Live’s Will Ferrell for being the kiss of death for any film. His list of flops is almost endless, starting with his silver screen debut with an uncredited appearance in Criminal Hearts (1995). Next, he flopped in Men Seeking Women (1997) where his co-star was none other than the Big, Fat, Greek Nia Vardalos. In 1998, he and fellow SNL ensemble members Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon stretched a bad SNL skit into the unwatchable A Night at the Roxbury.

And who could forget his work in The Thin Pink Line (1998) with Jennifer Aniston, in The Suburbans (1999) with Jennifer Love Hewitt, in Dick (1999) with Kirsten Dunst or in The Whistleblower (1999) with Hugh Fink? I could. Will’s flicks have regularly landed on my annual 10 Worst List, including such disgraces as Superstar (1999), another sorry SNL stretch-o-matic, and Drowning Mona (2000) where he helped drown the career of Bette Midler, who took most of the blame in the title role of Mona.

So excuse me for not expecting much when I heard that Ferrell was signed as the star of Old School. For while many SNL alums have been able to make the jump to feature films successfully, most notably Adam Sandler, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Damon Wayans, Jon Lovitz and Bill Murray, the big screen simply has not been a friend to most of that show’s cast members. Therefore, I had prematurely pigeonholed Will Ferrell as a made-for-TV talent when along comes Old School.

Stop the presses! Will has finally found a vehicle which fits his bawdy brand of humor as the suddenly single Frank, a corporate geek who turns freaky after he finds out his wife (Juliette Lewis) is cheating on him. Director Todd Philips (Road Trip) has given the uninhibited comic a long enough leash to let it all hang out, literally and figuratively. Here, we see Ferrell streaking down the street butt-naked; there, he’s slurring gibberish with a tranquilizer dart stuck in his neck; and always, he’s overindulging and ogling girls less than half his age.

Old School has a back-to-college storyline, but it’s just an excuse for the three thirtysomethings at the center of the story to regress into spoiled, self-indulgent, sexist, frat boys again. Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde 1 & 2) and Vince Vaughn (Psycho) co-star as Mitch and Beanie, college buddies of Frank who agree to return to their alma mater to open an unsanctioned Animal House-style fraternity on campus, over the vehement objections of the flabbergasted dean (Jeremy Piven).

Their sophomoric antics at the Old School are every bit as outrageous as the most shocking examples of the gross-out genre’, ala There’s Something About Mary (1998) and Not Another Teen Movie (2001). Thus, you must brace yourself for a lot of booty calls, nudity, unconventual sexual situations, substance abuse, sadistic torture, and bodily-function vulgarities. The cast of cameos in on the joke includes rapper Snoop Dogg, talk show host Craig Kilbourn (of CBS’s The Late Show), androgynous Andy Dick (Zoolander), Seann William Scott (Stifler of American Pie 1, 2, & 3) and political pundit James Carville.

Overdue Will Ferrell, finally funny. After so many duds, it’s about time, dude.

Very good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity and sexuality.

Copyright © 2002 The Black World Today.
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