Will Ferrell: Funny or Finished?

thumbs_down_stockxchnge.jpg

After investing the better part of a quarter billion dollars into the effort, Will Ferrell’s new film, Land of the Lost, opened to sparsely populated theaters and sneering critics, netting less than twenty million over its first weekend. Everyone has a flop once in a while, but this makes about four in a row for the star of Anchorman which were either limp at the box office or flat out flops.

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly seems to agree.

Anyone who’s honest with themselves has to admit that Ferrell hasn’t been all that funny for a while. Did you see his one-man George W. Bush show on HBO? Just painful. It was like watching someone shoot fish in a barrel for an hour and change. Step Brothers? Semi Pro? The dude’s been coasting for a while now. And the less said about The Producers and Bewitched, the better.

Land of the Lost is just the latest proof that Ferrell’s shtick — the clueless, self-deprecating blowhard man-child — is growing stale. You can put him in a NASCAR jumpsuit, a basketball uniform, or a quantum paleontologist’s khakis, but he’s pretty much always the same guy. You know that at some point he’ll take off his shirt and reveal his flabby belly, or dump dinosaur urine on his head, and then mug at the camera as if to say, Ain’t it hilarious? Well, yes it was…the first time.

Ferrell could still turn this thing around. Many prominent actors have taken a dive and later resurrected their careers, sometimes taking them in entirely new directions. One great example is John Travolta who enjoyed early success as a goofball comic and dancing figure. Largely lampooned and treated as something of a joke, Travolta dropped off the radar for quite a while, only to reemerge later as a consumate bad guy in a number of films.

Ferrel is no spring chicken, but he could do something similar. Or, failing that, he could just fire his agent and start picking a few better scripts.