Hi. It's me. Daniel. Before I go any further, I'd like to offer my condolences over Semi-Pro. Everyone was predicting about $30 million for opening weekend, and you did about half that. These are record-low numbers, (for your standards), and that must be pretty tough for you. It probably even comes as a surprise. Being the arrogant, delusional man-child has always resulted in big numbers for you in the past, and I'm sure you thought Semi-Pro would just be another huge victory. And after all that promotion you did, with the Superbowl Ad, and the Sports Illustrated Spread, and the Old Spice stuff- you must be crushed.
I watched Semi-Pro yesterday. It wasn't very good. I chuckled a few times, sure, there were some really great moments. I’ve always been a sucker for bears. A well-placed scream can often yield hilarious results, and you also have an amazing knack for picking out words that, somehow, are just inherently funny, (this time it was “pancakes.” You said “pancake” and I almost pissed myself.). In general, however, it was as weak as I’d expected it to be. Each movie of yours since Anchorman has been a derivative of Anchorman, and a poor one at that. Talladega Nights was pretty good, Blades of Glory was worse and in Semi-Pro, it just looked like you were trying too hard to do a “Will Ferrell Movie.” It seemed like everybody involved --the writer, the supporting cast, even Woody Harrelson (as Owen Wilson) -- was just sitting back, expecting you to work some of that “Ferrell Magic” that’s worked so well in the past. The formula, (Will Ferrell plays an overly confident, loud-mouthed buffoon with an interesting hairstyle), has always worked, and maybe that’s the problem. It’s worked too well, and too many times. We’ve seen it. We’ve loved it.
But we’re not stupid. We won’t keep paying for the same show over and over again. We’re ready for what else you have.
Don’t confuse this with some of the other backlash you might read. This isn’t some snarky, “I’ve-always-hated-Will-anyway” kind of letter. Those letters are out there, but this isn’t one of them. I don’t think you’re overrated. I don’t think you’re a one-trick pony. I haven’t been sitting around waiting for you to fail. I’m a fan, Will. I really am. And, as a fan, I think I can speak for a whole lot of folks when I say “We miss you.”
It’s been brought to my attention that a plenty of people might only know you from your movies. Under those circumstances, it isn’t difficult to see why one or two reviewers called you a “One Joke Actor.” I mean, after Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro, why wouldn’t that be the conclusion?
But I remember. I remember Saturday Night Live the season before you showed up, Will. Ellen Cleghorne. Laura Kightlinger. Janeane Garofalo. Fucking Chris Elliot. You made SNL relevant again. Every so often, an SNL cast member comes along where you just think "That's it. Once he leaves, the show's fucked." Terrence Maddox. Harry Caray. “Dissing Your Dog.” You were one of those guys, Will, one of the best cast members that show will ever see, and it kills me that you’ve resigned yourself to playing some variation of your Robert Goulet impression year after year.
Every once in a while, I try to sit back and imagine just how tough it must have been to convince studio heads that a movie about anchormen in the ‘70s would be a good sell. “I want to make a movie about a bunch of stupid anchormen in San Diego and target it at teenagers and twentysomethings.” People must have thought you were crazy. I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I probably would’ve thought you were crazy. But did it work? Hell yeah it worked. It worked like a son of a bitch. Christ, half of the entire Snorg Tees catalogue is based off of quotes from that movie. It worked, and you knew it would, because you’ve got perhaps the strongest comedic instincts of any actor of this generation. So … why aren’t you using them now? You were great once, remember? Do you remember the Old Prospector? Do you?
I’m just concerned for you, Will. I just don’t want to see you disappear, that’s all. You’ve got another movie coming out within the year, Step Brothers, where you again play some kind of clueless man-child. We know you’re better than this, Will. We've seen it. You’ve shown it to us, with SNL, with Stranger Than Fiction, you’ve shown how you can get laughs and deliver a great performance without resorting to the same tricks.
Bill Murray was an incredible cast member who has an amazing career of comedies and dramas. Eddie Murphy was an incredible cast member who has made a career out of putting a fat suit on over and over again because it worked once. You can be Bill Murray, Will. Don’t settle for Eddie Murphy.