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Will Ferrell’s Best Sports Movies, in Honor of His Upcoming eSports Film

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TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY, Will Ferrell, 2006. (Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Will Ferrell in ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.’ (Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

You know a sport has truly arrived when it becomes the subject of a Will Ferrell movie. So it’s fair to say that eSports—a.k.a. competitive video game playing—isn’t going anywhere for a while.

That’s because it was just announced that Ferrell will star in an untitled comedy set in the world of eSports. Ferrell will play an older member of a professional eSports team, competing against teenagers and twenty-somethings. (And he already has experience playing video games, as you can see here.)

The announcement got us thinking about the best Ferrell-starring sports movies of all time. (Yes, there have been a few.) Here’s our list:

 

6. The Campaign (2012)

OK, this isn’t a sports movie. It’s a political movie. But politics is sort of like sports, right? It’s a competition. There are uniforms. There are winners and losers. People get beat up physically and emotionally. What was the Trump-Clinton presidential election if not a no-holds-barred street fight?5. Old School (2003)

 

5. Old School (2003)

Again, not a sports movie. But it turns into one in the final 30 minutes of the film, with the dance competition and the debate between Ferrell and James Carville. And it features the most inspired gymnastics floor routine in cinematic history. Ferrell’s total focus on (and adoration of) the ribbon is what makes it so hilarious. It’s actually a bit reminiscent of his cat impression from his SNL audition. (Which, if you haven’t seen yet, you need to.)

 

4. Semi-Pro (2008)

This was Ferrell’s last true sports movie, and it was sort of a sports movie too far. You can see why it’s been nearly a decade since he has made an all-out jock film. He had to stay in sports-movie jail for a while after this one. Because it’s just not that funny. And it’s rather predictable. (But one scene that wasn’t predictable was the poker scene. It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, yet it’s the movie’s best moment.)

 

3. Kicking & Screaming (2005)

Unlike the other movies on this list, Kicking & Screaming is a family film. It’s rated PG, whereas all the others are rated either R or PG-13. But it still packs a comedic punch. (Or kick, as it were.) Ferrell is doing his “nice guy” character (a la Daddy’s Home), rather than his over-the-top, self-absorbed-jerk character (a la Semi-Pro and others). The act works well opposite Robert Duvall, playing the win-at-all-costs coach, and Ferrell’s father. And the movie gets some fine contributions from Mike Ditka, in a much-bigger-than-a-cameo role.

 

2. Blades of Glory (2007)

Blades of Glory proves that the sillier the sport, the better the Will Ferrell movie. Ferrell and Jon Heder (in maybe his best non-Napoleon Dynamite performance) show great chemistry as rival figure skaters turned teammates. Craig T. Nelson plays a solid coach (as Craig T. Nelson does). Jenna Fischer is at her foxiest. And that chase scene while on ice skates between Ferrell and Will Arnett is so stupid yet so amusing.

 

1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Talladega is Ferrell’s highest-grossing sports movie ($148 million, putting it third all-time in the sports comedy category). It’s his highest-rated sports movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes (72% fresh). And it benefits from coming along at the perfect moment. NASCAR, its corporate logo-festooned drivers, and its speed-crazy fans were ripe for mockery by 2006. With any luck, Ferrell’s upcoming eSports film will skewer the gaming world and its sudden, mind-boggling popularity just as effectively. It certainly appears the moment is right.

—Shawn Donnelly for RealClearLife