This is one of those common sense posts where it’s often nevertheless enlightening to see actual numbers to back up obvious theories. Of the five actors currently best known for making broad comedies right now, there are still movies that each of them have made that most of us adore: Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction, Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Carell in Little Miss Sunshine and Stiller in The Royal Tenenbaums. We know they’re capable of making good films and, indeed, the list of smaller, more dramatic roles on each of these gentlemen’s resumes is (mostly) impressive.
So why do they continue to make broad stupid comedies that make many of us hate them all the more? For the same reason many of us would. The money, of course. But what’s the real-dollar difference between making a 90-minute fart joke and baring your soul?
It’s significant, as you can see below. The list of films in each of these actor’s resumes should also fairly well indicate what will become of Zach Galifianakis’ career, too.
Broad Comedies: Grown Ups, Bedtime Stories, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Click, The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management, Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison.
Average Box Office Gross: $111 million.
Riskier More Dramatic Roles: Funny People, Reign Over Me, Spanglish, Punch-Drunk Love.
Average Box Office Gross: $32 million.
Broad Comedies: A Christmas Carol, Yes Man, Fun with Dick and Jane, Lemony Snicket, Bruce Almighty, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Me Myself and Irene, Liar Liar, Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Batman Forever, Dumb and Dumber, The Mask.
Average Box Office Gross: $134 million.
Riskier More Dramatic Roles: The Number 23, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Majestic, Man on the Moon, The Truman Show, Cable Guy.
Average Box Office Gross: $52 million.
Broad Comedies: Land of the Lost, Semi-Pro, The Other Guys, Step-Brothers, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Bewitched, Kicking and Screaming, Anchorman, Elf, Old School.
Average Box Office Gross: $92 million.
Riskier More Dramatic Roles: Stranger than Fiction, Winter Passing, The Producers, Melinda and Melinda.
Average Box Office Gross: $15 million.
Broad Comedies: Dinner for Schmucks, Date Night, Get Smart, Evan Almighty, The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Average Box Office Gross: $102 million.
Riskier More Dramatic Roles: Dan in Real Life, Little Miss Sunshine.
Average Box Office Gross: $53 million.
Broad Comedies: Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian, Tropic Thunder, Heartbreak Kid, Night at the Museum, Meet the Fockers, Dodgeball, Envy, Starsky and Hutch, Along Came Polly, Duplex, Zoolander, Meet the Parents, There’s Something About Mary, Mystery Men.
Average Box Office Gross: $217 million
Riskier More Dramatic Roles: Greenberg, The Marc Pease Experience, The Royal Tenenbaums, Keeping the Faith, Permanent Midnight, Your Friends and Neighbors, Zero Effect, Cable Guy.
Average Box Office Gross: $20 million.