The Best Will Ferrell Movie

By Doug Norrie

Which is Will Ferrell’s best movie? It feels like Will Ferrell has been around forever, and in a lot of ways, it seems like he’s been playing much of the same character since he hit the scene in the early 2000’s. That’s fine by me because I could basically watch the dude read the phone book and get a laugh out of it.

Fans spend a lot of time arguing over which Will Ferrell movie is the best, but we’ve come with a definitive ranking using an average score of critical reviews. In order to make it on this list a Will Ferrell movie it had to finish over 50% in the critical consensus, Ferrell had have something like or close to a starring role in the movie, and we aren’t including any voice-over work. 

Elf | 2003

  • Critical Consensus: 84% Positive
Will Ferrell in Elf

Will Ferrell’s best-reviewed movie and maybe the most universally loved. Elf has turned into a holiday season staple for this household and many others. The story of Buddy, a displaced “elf” who does the lost-in-New York thing to hilarious results. Elf is just a great movie through and through with plenty of drop-dead laugh moments and a touching story.

Frankly, it baffles me that it’s even this “low” on the Tomatometer and without throwing out the cliches about lumps of coal in the negative reviewers stocking (I did it anyway). Those who gave it a thumbs down simply got it wrong.

Did we get it right? Is this the best Will Ferrell movie: https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/ent/best-will-ferrell-movies.html

Posted by Giant Freakin Robot on Friday, January 31, 2020

The Other Guys | 2010

  • Critical Consensus: 78% Positive
Will Ferrell movie

The Other Guys opens with a hilarious flourish, putting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel Jackson out on display as the don’t-give-a-f@#$ cops who take down the bad guys, blow shit up and get the girls only to fall to their death almost before the opening credits are done rolling. 

In steps Ferrell as a bean-counting, rule-following cop and his hotheaded partner in Mark Wahlberg. This Will Ferrell movie has plenty of great one-liners, an awesome dynamic between the two leads, Michael Keaton T.L.C references and just a ton of laughs. It easily could have been a schlocky stupid mess, but they pulled it off. 


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues | 2013

  • Critical Consensus: 75% Positive
Anchorman 2

The rare sequel that outpaces its predecessor in the eyes of the critics, Anchorman 2 gets the gang back together for another go around in the wonderful world of the “news”. This Will Ferrell movie sequel didn’t deviate much from the formula that worked the first time and, in this case, I suspect the critics knew what they were getting into early.

The team is just as ridiculous as ever, the jokes are over the top and the world of 24-hour-news was never filled with more debauchery. 


Everything Must Go | 2010

  • Critical Consensus: 73% Positive
Serious will ferrell movie

I suppose on a technical level, Everything Must Go is a comedy, but it’s really more a story about loss and redemption. Ferrell, from a character standpoint, doesn’t deviate all that much from what he’s done in the past but this has just enough sour to to go with the sweet. 

He plays a struggling, alcoholic salesman whose wife leaves him and literally throws everything out on the front lawn. What ensues is Ferrell living on said lawn among the things he once cherished, drinking his way into oblivion and befriending a neighborhood boy going through his own shit. It’s a touching story and one of Will Ferrell’s better dramatic turns in a movie. 


Stranger than Fiction | 2006

  • Critical Consensus: 73% Positive
Will Ferrell in stranger than fiction

Marketed as a comedy, this Will Ferrell movie is actually a super meta-story about a guy who’s living the life of a character an author is writing a story about except they both live in the same reality. Get it? It plays out smooth enough on screen, but making this kind of interwoven and overlapping story without running into too many space-time hiccups was almost an accomplishment just on its own. 

As the loveable loser, Ferrell is very much in his element as he “navigates” a world that’s playing out on the paper in front of someone else. See what I mean? It’s confusing. 


Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby | 2006

  • Critical Consensus: 71% Positive
Will Ferrell racing movie

Did this Will Ferrell movie do more for auto racing than anything in the sport’s actual history or did it set NASCAR back a decade? It’s kind of tough to tell.

Ferrell and running mate John C. Reilly put it all on display in a flick that goes off the rails just as much as it garners laughs. In many ways, this epitomizes the almost farcical nature of Ferrell’s career. It’s full of shameless ads, borderline offensive interpretations of racecar culture, the folks who participate and very, very stupid jokes. And it still works. The scene with Ricky Bobby saying grace is almost worth the price of admission on its own. 


Blades of Glory | 2007

  • Critical Consensus: 70% Positive
Blades of Glory movie

You’ll notice that Will Ferrell movies like to take concepts or in this case, sports, and make movies about the subculture. Heck, we aren’t even going to get to Semi-Pro (22%) but these kinds of flicks are somewhat the hallmark of Ferrell’s career.

In Blades of Glory, he dons the skates and plays Chazz Michael Michaels who is desperate to get back into figure-skating after being handed a lifetime ban. So he teams up with Jon Heder, fresh off of Napoleon Dynamite, and they put on a skating display very much in line with what two guys who look like this would do on the ice.  


The Campaign | 2012

  • Critical Consensus: 66% Positive
political comedy

Ferrell has plenty of political satire under his belt having played the heal version of George W. Bush through the 2000’s on Saturday Night Live and in his own one-man play You’re Welcome America. As far as satirical presidential runs, it might be the most iconic ever.

Here he and Zach Galifianakis play rival candidates and Ferrell is basically just doing that “W” impersonation under a different name as a US Congressman. In an ever-escalating series of campaign stunts, these two face off in just another Ferrell mockery, this time of the election process and the core political system.

If Will Ferrell’s movies feel a little too close to home in how they portray these institutions, it’s because he has a knack for the ridiculous and the sublime. The Campaign might be the best example of that strategy. 


Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy | 2004

  • Critical Consensus: 66% Positive
Ron Burgundy movie

In this movie Will Ferrell is able to take us into his glass case of emotions in this cult and box office favorite about the halcyon days of San Diego (it means a Whale’s vagina) nightly news. When it’s all said and done, Ron Burgundy might go down as Ferrell’s most memorable character which is really saying a lot considering the list above. But he just turns in such an epic performance as the womanizing, mahogany-loving, jazz-fluting, leader of the nightly news team. Anchorman goes so, so, far over the top (Brick killed a guy!) that you almost lose a sense of reality. And it’s almost all hilarious. 


Step Brothers | 2008

  • Critical Consensus: 55% Positive
Will Ferrell movie

Ferrell and John C. Reilly have teamed up in three widely-released movies but man it for sure feels like more than that. Maybe that’s because whenever they do it’s such a tour-de-force of abject silliness that it seems we’ve watched a thousand hours of it.

Here, they are as “close” as ever as middle-aged man-boys who end up as step-brothers. While inhabiting fully grown adult bodies, they are every bit the petulant children you’d expect them to be. 


Will Ferrell Honorable Mentions


Old School

  • Critical Consensus: 60% Positive

Zoolander

  • Critical Consensus: 64% Positive

Wedding Crashers

  • Critical Consensus: 75% Positive
Ferrell supporting roles

I didn’t add these three Will Ferrell movies to the main list because he didn’t technically have a starring role in any of them, but he for sure steals every scene in all three. Whether it’s Frank the Tank streaking, Mugatu plotting fashion world dominance or Chazz Reinhold yelling for his mom to cook him some meatloaf, Ferrell does seem to come away as the star in all three. 

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