The American comedian Will Ferrell is a beloved actor and improv master who’s given audiences decades of laughs. After rising to fame on the television program “Saturday Night Live”, Ferrell made his film debut in 1998 in “A Night at the Roxbury”, and he’s been making movies ever since. With more than three dozen films under his belt, so far, it’s tough to choose the five best Will Ferrell movies.
Many fans recognize Ferrell from his many hilarious performances on SNL, as he was on the show from 1995 to 2002. He became a household name with his over-the-top performances and memorable skits, and he was even nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance. However, it’s not as well known that the funnyman actually got his start with the Los Angeles-based improvisational group The Groundlings.
Now, Ferrell has a number of memorable (and often quotable) appearances in hit movies on his resume. He often plays a clueless, over-confident parody of an average American in his movies, and their critical success and continued popularity prove Ferrel is one of the most successful SNL alumni to make the transition to the big screen. While he’s best known for his comedic roles, including hilarious villains, he’s also taken on several dramatic characters and proven himself to be a diverse actor.
With more than 20 years of making funny films and feel good movies under his belt, ranging from family-friendly fun to raunchy adult comedies, it’s not exactly easy to choose which are the best of the bunch. To come up with this list of the best Will Ferrell movies, StudyFinds checked with 10 expert websites to see what they said. Tell us if you think we missed one in the comments section below.
The List: Best Will Ferrell Movies, According to Experts
1. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)
Will Ferrell’s performance as the hilariously incompetent, misogynistic Ron Burgundy is perhaps his most iconic role. Anchorman also features a fantastic supporting cast which features Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and the late Fred Willard.
“Out of the many comedies that Will Ferrell has been in, Anchorman is easily the most quotable,” says Screen Rant. “Quotes such as ‘I love lamp’ and ‘60% of the time, it works every time’ make this comedy incredibly rewatchable. … Ferrell has made many appearances as this character and fans continue to love him.”
“Many will point to Ferrell’s news anchor as the most significant work of his comedic career, redefining the term ‘wall-to-wall comedy,’” writes Variety. “Depending on the day, they would be correct, but today, it’s most certainly in the top-tier of his filmography. … The movie gets extra points because he brought the iconic role to the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber.”
“This is truly the movie that made Ferrell a superstar, and should be considered among the greatest comedy films of all time,” gushes New Arena. “There really are no dull moments, and Ferrell leads the way as the self-obsessed, extremely popular local San Diego news anchorman Ron Burgundy. … Ferrell’s side-splitting performance that is truly legendary and stands high above the rest of his work.”
2. “Elf ” (2003)
This Will Ferrell movie became an instant holiday classic with its super funny, warm-hearted humor. Ferrell is charming as an oblivious, overly-optimistic human raised by elves at the North Pole, and his reunion with his biological father will make you laugh out loud every time.
🎄'Elf' starring Will Ferrell premiered in theaters 18 years ago, November 7, 2003 pic.twitter.com/XSmxzidzjG
— RetroNewsNow (@RetroNewsNow) November 8, 2021
“You could put pretty much any 6’3″ actor in an elf suit and get some chuckles, but casting Will Ferrell as an orphan raised at the North Pole — by Bob ‘Papa Elf’ Newhart, no less — was a stroke of comic genius,” writes Rotten Tomatoes. “What tends to get lost in all the shouting and inappropriate nudity is that Ferrell excels at playing gentle, childlike men whose open-heartedness is exceeded only by their oafishness, and in Elf‘s Buddy Hobbs, he found a role that perfectly highlighted that skill. And the casting genius didn’t end there — Elf also includes inspired turns by Newhart in an elf’s cap, Ed Asner as Santa, James Caan as Ferrell’s gruff, exasperated biological father, and, for Pete’s sake, Leon Redbone as a talking snowman.”
“Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas and this list wouldn’t be a list of the funniest Will Ferrell movies without the inclusion of Elf,” beams Cinemablend. “This holiday classic had everyone holding their sides laughing as we saw what Will Ferrell could do in a starring role a year after he left the cast of Saturday Night Live. The entire movie is filled with classic Will Ferrell lines and situations that no one could do better.”
“Of all of Ferrell’s films, Elf is perhaps his most beloved across generations,” says Entertainment Weekly. “Played with a sweet innocence and child-like wonder, Ferrell’s character provides a great counterpoint to his frequently frustrated father.”
3. “Step Brothers” (2008)
This film tops Ranker’s list of the best Will Ferrell movies. It’s ultimately a buddy film that lets two great comedic actors outlandishly act out their own narcissisms and a hilarious love-hate relationship. “Reilly and Ferrell both shine as two man-children who are then forced by their recently married parents to start behaving like real adults,” states Screen Rant. “The film itself has very childish and immature humor, but it works because of the great performances by the leads. It also gave the world a classic music video involving a boat and some women.”
STEP BROTHERS starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly released in theaters on this day, 14 years ago pic.twitter.com/scgY1vG2Jd
— Lights, Camera, Barstool (@LightsCameraPod) July 25, 2022
“Ferrell and good buddy John C. Reilly obviously like working together,” notes New Arena. “They go center stage as Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly), each who lives with their single parent. When those parents get married, the pair are forced to live together under the same roof. The laughs – and antics – are plenty.”
“Sometimes, all a movie really needs is lots and lots of great jokes,” writes The Manual. “Step Brothers is one of the more vulgar movies Ferrell has ever made, and it also may be the funniest. Playing a large adult son before there was even a word for such a thing, Step Brothers follows Ferrell’s character as he develops a rivalry — and eventually, a friendship — with another large adult son played by John C. Reilly. In reality, though, the plot of Step Brothers is just an excuse for some of the funniest jokes ever told in a movie.”
4. “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006)
Ferrell’s turn as a dimwitted NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby let the actor lean into his ability to play affable buffoons. It was a hit at the box office and featured performances from other comedic greats like Sacha Baron Cohen, Amy Adams, Jane Lynch, and John C. Reilly.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY raced into theaters on this day, 16 years ago pic.twitter.com/KO2Xrhn9QT
— Lights, Camera, Barstool (@LightsCameraPod) August 4, 2022
“The sports comedy hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was another film that further cemented Will Ferrell’s comedy status,” says Movieweb. “The film is full of comedic gold and great, hilarious performances by and. The sports satire really showcases the talent of its cast and Ferrell shines as Ricky Bobby.”
“With all the product placements for Wonder Bread and Powerade, along with cameos by racing legends Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray, the film is always worth a few laps,” writes Variety.
“Even though the tale of the hero’s fall is a familiar one, Ferrell shines when partnered with Baron Cohen and frequent collaborator Reilly,” states Entertainment Weekly . “Jokes at the expense of NASCAR, particularly when aimed at corporate sponsorship, still land almost two decades later. It’s also yet another star vehicle for Ferrell, who’s at the top of his over-the-top game in the film.”
5. “The Other Guys” (2010)
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are a mismatched pair of cops that deliver the laughs in this comedy. Ferrell gets the opportunity to play several aspects of his character’s personality, starting out as a meek, naive accountant who reveals himself to be someone with a hilariously hardened past. “Leave it to Will Ferrell to take an idea as tired as the buddy cop movie and turn it into a genre satire that’s light with free form comedy and craziness,” gushes Esquire.
The Other Guys is streaming on #Netflix and #Hulu!
Directed by Adam McKay.
Starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. pic.twitter.com/oMh5jOSFNv
— AddToTheList (@AddToTheList_) March 23, 2022
“For much of his film career, Ferrell has scooped added helpings of laughs out of being placed alongside well-chosen comedic foils,” writes Rotten Tomatoes. “But Ferrell can also be brilliantly funny when his bozo routine has a fussy, tight-lipped straight man to bounce off, and 2010’s The Other Guys is a perfect example. By placing Ferrell’s knuckleheaded Detective Allen Gamble opposite Mark Wahlberg’s desperately straight-laced Detective Terry Hoitz, Guys pumped a few extra chuckles into the well-worn buddy cop formula — and worked in a little savvy bailout-era social commentary in the bargain.”
“Will Ferrell continued his successful run of the box office hits with the 2010 buddy cop film The Other Guys,” says Cinemablend. “The Other Guys did quite well at the box office, bringing in over $170 million in ticket sales worldwide, but it’s one of the Will Ferrell movies that a lot of us forget about when looking over his memorable roles. Throughout much of the film, Ferrell’s character, Detective Allen ‘Gator’ Gamble, is portrayed as a mild-mannered and inexperienced forensic accountant who fumbles through procedural police duties when on the beat, but he drops all niceties when Wahlberg’s Detective Terry Hoitz attempts to put him in check.”
You might also be interested in:
- Screen Rant
- Entertainment Weekly
- Rotten Tomatoes
- The Manual
- New Arena
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.