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Zack Galifianakis: The Next Will Ferrell?

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 13, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 13, 2010 |

You remember that feeling you had back in 2003 — before The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the explosion of Judd Apatow, and the bromance comedy — after you watched Old School for the first time. It was like, “Yeah, Motherfuckers! Frank! The Tank! Frank! The Tank!” And remember how you felt like you could watch Will Ferrell in anything and it’d be funny? And then he made Elf and you were like, “Toldja Motherfuckers!” And then he made Anchorman and you were like, “Well, that was kind of weird. But hells yeah! Ferrell is the shit, yo!”

I think it was right after Anchorman where I thought: Ferrell is going to be the next Adam Sandler. They are going to run that shtick into the ground, dull the edges, and family-friendlicize that shit. And sure enough, that’s just about what happened.

Well, folks: I’m calling it right here: Zach Galifianakis will be the next Will Ferrell. Yes, he was great in The Hangover (truthfully, you take out Galifianakis and The Hangover would’ve been borderline bad). And I expect the best from his Todd Phillips’ follow-up, Due Date with Robert Downey, Jr., which basically looks like The Hangover 2.

After that, I’m afraid, he’s going to hit his middling streak — the pre-family friendly era. He’s got Dinner for Schmucks coming after that — with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, directed by Jay Roach — will will probably be very broad, very successful, and not particularly funny. Then he will make his little indie film that no one will see, which will be It’s Kind of a Funny Story, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), and we will probably still love him, and think that it’s nice that he’s stretching himself as an actor. But then, inexplicably, he goes full-on sell-out as the voice of Humpty Dumpty in the Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots, but we forgive him because it’s just voice work. After that, he probably does The Hangover 2, which will be half as funny as the original, and probably PG-13.

And then, finally, he makes the just announced Will, which will re-team Galifianakis with his Schmucks co-star, Paul Rudd, in a movie directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine) and written by Dmetri Martin. The logline:

The story follows an ordinary guy (Rudd) who lives in a world where people’s lives and destinies are being written by scribes in Heaven. The man wakes up one day to find that his heavenly writer (Galifianakis) has decided to no longer draft his life, and he must go about his day unscripted, ending up on a journey to fulfill his hidden potential.

It sounds like a bizarre, a-little-too-cute logline, but this project has been development for years, moving to Paramount from Dreamworks back in ‘07, and it’s always been spoken of highly. The original hope was that the project would start filming last June, but the pieces never came together. Galifianakis, however, gets it rolling — they need only now to come up with the romantic lead.

So, yeah: With Will, he’s finally gotten to his Stranger than Fiction, so we know it’s probably all downhill from there, unless the world ends in 2012, in which case we’ll always think fondly of Galifianakis.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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