Adam McKay's Comedies and Dramas Are More Similar Thank You Think - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Adam McKay's Comedies and Dramas Are More Similar Thank You Think

The comedy genre has surely changed from where it was back in the early 2000s. What was once labeled as hilarious is now looked down on as more crude and insensitive. Adam McKay's films starring Will Ferrell are definitely seen as films of a bygone area and not ones that one could make in this current climate, yet that hasnt made fans love the films any less. There's still plenty of people out there who will quote films like Step Brothers and Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy every other day, and honestly, who can blame them?

It's also becoming more and more of a trend for many of the filmmakers behind these influential comedies to transition to making more prestige fair: Todd Phillips, Peter Farrelly, and Jay Roach are prime examples of this. While doing press for Joker, Phillips blamed the "woke culture" for the reason that he couldn't do comedy anymore. The Florida Project filmmaker Sean Baker, who attended film school with Phillips, wrote in his Letterboxd review that Joker was the film he always imagined Phillips would make instead of the raunchy comedies that made him famous. While the clown film may have been far different than any of the films Phillips had done before, the same can't be said when comparing McKay's original comedies with his prestige films.

RELATED: Adam McKay Says ‘Don’t Look Up’ Is a Dark Comedy and Has Evolved Beyond a Simple Climate Change Allegory

McKay's prestige films The Big Short and Vice had the filmmaker's political views painted in big red lettering, while still managing to be quite comedic. While somebody watching Green Book may not be able to tell that the film was directed by the co-director of Dumb and Dumber, somebody watching The Big Short could completely see that it's by the same filmmaker as The Other Guys. Typically in a buddy cop flick, the villains will be painted as gang leaders or drug kingpins, but in The Other Guys the villain is actually a billionaire Wall-Street executive by the name of David Ershon (played with the schwarmy edge that only Steve Coogan can deliver) and the film trades in street crime for white collar crime. Throughout the course of the film McKay delivers jabs at just how much the people on Wall Street can get away with. One of the plot points in the film is that Ershon has his grasp around the police force and is holding them back from exposing his crimes. One scene has Ershon bribing Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg's Allen and Terry with tickets to a Knicks game and Broadway shows when they're trying to confront the businessman about his crimes. McKay uses that same harsh veracity when dealing with the big banks in The Big Short, bribery is also a major player when at the end of the film, it's revealed that Ryan Gosling's Jared Vennett, who's been a salemsman for Deutsche Bank, has sold his swaps and earned himself a bonus of $47 million from his company.

People might think that McKay has adapted a new directorial style with his prestige films, but that's not neccessarily true, it's just that he has found other ways to address complex concepts in a more direct light. Similar to Vice, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby is a pretty direct criticism of Bush-era America and blind patriotism. The 2006 film begins with a quote that claims it's attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "America is all about speed, hot, nasty badass speed", obviously the former first lady never said these exact words, but it sets the tone for the kind of movie it truly is. Likewise, Vice opens with the text "The following is a true story. Or as true as it can be given that Dick Cheney is known as one of the most secretive leaders in history. But we did our fucking best." Despite one film being centered around Nascar and another is a biopic about George W. Bush's maligned VP, these two opening texts clearly have the same distinct voice. Both films also address the Bush administration's issues with the LGBTQ community, in Talladega Nights, Sacha Baron Cohen's gay French Jean Girard is painted as the rival to Ferrell's all-American Ricky Bobby. The end of Vice has Christian Bale's Cheney advise his daughter, Liz, to publicly come out against gay marriage in a political speech, despite her sister ,Mary, his other daughter, being a lesbian.

McKay has always found glee in criticizing and spoofing powerful figures both in the media and in politics. While some may brush off Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues as just another comedy sequel, upon closer inspection, one will notice that the film is directly satirizing CNN and the world of 24 hour news. Instead of having the sequel pick up directly after the first film, McKay fast forwards the characters to the year 1979 and 1980, which was when CNN had it's start. As for politics, even before Vice, McKay has pulled some punches at the Bush administration, in particular the final scene of Anchorman reveals that the mentally deficient character of Brick, went on to become a political adviser in the Bush administration. With his next film Don't Look Up, McKay also seems to be targeting the bigwigs in the government with Meryl Streep playing a president who is blissfully ignorant of the impending apocalypse.

McKay used his comedy background as stepping stones to get to the point where he is at the moment. There was clearly no ill will when he split from his longtime creative partner Ferrell in early 2019, but it was more of a sign of a paradigm shift. McKay couldn't have made the big-budget politically-charged content that he puts out today without his early work. Political satire has always been a hard sell for audiences and is even more so today. But McKay had already managed to make it feel more accessible with his Ferrell outings and then was able to garner high-caliber talent for his more prestige fair. Unlike Phillips, who abandoned comedy in fear of "cancel culture", McKay only expanded upon his comedy origins, he never left the genre. The humor that he used in his early films is still present in his more dramatuc ones, it's just under the lense of a prestige picture. This is the reason why McKay has arguably been the most successful of the recent string of comedy filmmakers who decided to delve into prestige projects. McKay's core sensiblities have remained the same, it is just that now he is using them to loudly proclaim his beliefs instead of building another story around it.

KEEP READING: 'Parasite' HBO Series Is Not a Remake, But Is Set in the Same Universe, Says Adam McKay



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