I just watched the rather shady quality trailer for The Producers on Sony’s site, and I no longer have any curiosity about the film. I think it will do well overall, though the Christmas release date is always a bad one, in my opinion. But I won’t see it, nor am I even remotely curious about it, and the reason can be summed up thusly: Will Ferrell as the Nazi playwrite.
I am one of the few people who never found Ferrell funny on SNL, though admittedly I never found Mike Myers, Jimmy Fallon, Molly Shannon, or any of the crew from the mid-90’s onward funny. I’ll confess to being a bit biased because when I started watching SNL, it was of the 1970’s "Not Ready For Primetime" crew in re-runs. Maybe it was because SNL started at the top that there was no where to go but down. Maybe it was because high-octane comedians are just naturally funnier when they’re flying high on cocaine (for example, compare Robin Williams’ latest piece on Broadway to his late ‘70’s shows or even his 1986 HBO spotlight and the difference is staggering).
Regardless, SNL has been neither funny nor particularly relevant for some time, despite the A+ effort head writer Tina Fey has put into the show in recent years. With the SNL players increasingly heading to the West Coast for big-screen glory, I can only hope that future generations of SNL prove far funnier than "names" like Ferrell.
Not that the bar is too high to jump over. Heck, if it were any lower you’d have to dig to find it.
When any comedian "hits" and becomes the "next big thing," there is a period where they appear in just about everything, regardless of whether they are right for the part. Then after several movies, they calm down the work load and take one or two movies a year until they decide to work even less and only make one movie every two years. For examples, look at Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey’s respective careers. While I think both are among the funniest men alive, Ferrell wouldn’t even register as a pimple on their asses. It’s not just that he’s not funny, it’s that he produces stone silence from me whenever he’s on screen.
It took the big screen debacle of "Bewitched" to take a lot of the luster off his star, but I wish it took the star as well. Sadly, we’ll have to endure him again later this year as the German playwright in Mel Brook’s musical version of his stage play based on his movie "The Producers." I truly love the original Gene Wilder-Zero Mostel film, despite it taking about 15 minutes to really get going. The basic story is two guys, a failed Broadway producer (Mostel) and his accountant (Wilder), decide to produce a guaranteed flop, then collect all the investment money, default on paying their investors, and retiring to the tropics. They set out to find the worst play of all time, and when they find it, it proves to be a doozy.
"Springtime for Hitler" is the name of the play, and from the description of it to the hiring of the worst director ever, to the casting of LSD, "The Producers" is gut-bustingly funny. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick seem to have perfect chemistry for the stage play, and I was curious to see the film based on it. But after watching Ferrell act like a loon for the umpteenth time, I’m done with him. He appears in anything as a major or supporting character, and I will not buy a ticket. Period.
I can only hope his star will either drop off the map, or ascend so high he’s only in one movie every two years. Either way, it’s easier to avoid him.