will farrell get hard wine drinking.jpg
Will Farrell in Get Hard (Etan Cohen, Warner Bros., 2015)
Stories & Ideas

Wed 02 Dec 2020

Maria Lewis
Maria Lewis

Assistant Film Curator

If there’s a Meme King, Will Ferrell has the crown.

It’s a status that’s perhaps a little ironic given that he’s not active on social media, the very medium where his status as reaction gif royalty is the strongest. However, it’s because of moments like these – Ferrell hysterically crying in Get Hard (2015) while gulping red wine on a massage chair – that viewers connect with in the moment and then connect with in the countless moments afterwards as they use a three second loop to communicate their own specific situation. With his combined catalogue as a cast member of Saturday Night Live (1975 – present) and hugely popular mainstream comedies that have given us characters like Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby, Mugatu and Chad Michael Michaels, there’s no shortage of Ferrell meme material. In fact, the tricky part is discerning which ones to use.

Hysterics are perhaps one of Ferrell’s most commonly used weapons, with overtly emotional displays from him a source of comedy largely due to gender stereotypes surrounding masculinity. In its simplest form, men are not supposed to display emotion let alone fragility. If they do, it becomes the butt of the joke. Ferrell has plenty of characters and moments that are weirder and more interesting on an intellectual level. Yet the ones that become commonly used are those that are easiest to translate. So his hysterical crying through Anchorman (2004) and Anchorman 2 (2013) are frequent go-tos over, say, the Roxbury Guys or “needs more cowbellSNL sketches.

Get Hard paired the comedic power of Ferrell with Kevin Hart in a buddy comedy that was not well received by critics and did just okay at the box-office. The general consensus was that along with being offensive, it was “unimaginative comedy” that didn’t push the talents of its two leads further than what they’re already known for. Audiences love Ferrell’s hysterics, for instance, so the movie opens with five seconds of his uninterrupted crying. It may garner a chuckle at first, but the gag is repeated just 15 minutes later when his character learns that he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. What follows is a crying montage as Ferrell sobs through his morning stretches, sobs through his daily capoeira workout, and yes, sobs while trying to drink red wine on a massage chair. The fact that the last entry is perhaps better known than Get Hard the film itself is testament to two things: people love Will Ferrell and they love to see him cry.

–  Maria Lewis

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