For me, Will Ferrell movies are either hit or miss, and, when they miss, it’s a big f*cking miss (Semi-Pro, The Other Guys, Land of the Lost, I’m looking at you and I’m not smiling, not once). The man’s still got it, though, when it comes to comedic sketches and has always had a handle on deadpan bizarre (his bearded guest spot on Conan’s last episode of “The Tonight Show” being my favorite example). In this video for Funny or Die, Ferrell and my favorite indie actor turned comedian, John C. Reilly, take on one of the oddest moments in TV history, a young David Bowie singing “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby for the 1977 special, “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” (ye olde timey!).
While Reilly nails Bing’s jolly, Southern grandpa persona, Ferrell’s British accent is positively Van Dykeian in its level of badness and his performance lacks all of Bowie’s toothsome charm. The mullet wig is, however, fairly amazing, and I have to give the Props Department mad props for their faithful recreation of the original set. In fact, the video is, until the very end, a word for word recreation of the original which is weird and uncomfortable enough without any embellishments.
I’m attaching the original in the event that you, dear reader, have been living in a cave in Peoria without the benefit of television or internet. For the record, apparently Bowie did this special because he was “actively trying to normalise his career” and because his mum liked Bing Crosby. Me too, Bowie’s mum, me too.