Who would have expected Will Farrell to be the big Hollywood star? During his run on Saturday Night Live, he seemed destined for the career of Will Parnell being a supporting comic actor. Able to exploit his small roles into starring moments, Ferrell made it easy to see how weak an episode of SNL would be. How close to the front his Cheerleaders sketch was positioned was a good barometer of a show’s quality. If the show led off with Will in his high school sweater it was going to be a disappointing 90 minutes. Saturday Night Live: the Best of Will Ferrell gives us a sample of major characters he honed during his seven season tenure.
“Bobbi & Marty” has him and Ana Gasteyer as the elderly Culps performing at an anti-drug rally with modified rap songs. “Behind The Music – Cowbell” is his signature sketch. Following ’70s rock band Blue Oyster Cult recording “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” with Christopher Walken playing super producer Bruce Dickinson. He wants more cowbell on the record and Ferrell plays the cowbell to the extreme in a tight shirt that exposed his massive gut.
“Dissing Your Dog” transforms Will into the anti-Dog Whisperer. “Cheerleaders” has them bringing school spirit to a Chess match. It’s a miracle this wasn’t made into a feature film like The Ladies Man. “Robert Goulet” debuts the Vegas star’s rap album. It’s still disturbing to hear Goulet dropping N Bombs from the various hits of the ‘90s. “Jeopardy” puts Alex Trebek against Sean Connery, French Stewart and Burt Reynolds. It’s a dork war of mindless insults from Sean to Alex. “Inside The Actors Studio” makes James Lipton praise the genius of Charles Nelson Reilly (Alec Baldwin). This sketch would be more funny if the real series hasn’t been reduced to a joke with Sean Combs and Jon Bon Jovi. Seems the Lipton now plays himself as done by Farrell.
“Devil Music” shows Garth Brooks as a jobless loser who wants to make it big in music. He will sell his soul to the devil (Will) for a hit song. The devil’s material isn’t quite up to snuff. “Harry Caray: Space” gives us science from the loopy Chicago Cubs announcer. He ponders eating the moon if it was made of ribs. “Love’s Hot Tub” lets Will and Rachel Dratch get steamy. Drew Barrymore soaks with them. They keep cracking up. “Roxbury” places Jim Carrey as the third brother. They crash numerous parties with their spaz dance moves. “Sculpture Class” makes Will a drunk nude model. There’s way too many bodily fluid jokes. “Family Dinner” puts Will at the head of the table. The chit-chat devolves to anger. “I drive a Dodge Stratus” is the punchline. This is not a golden great or a precursor to Ricky Bobby’s Baby Jesus dinner prayer. “Jacob Silj” drones out as Will is a State Department foghorn official on Weekend Update. It’s not a shame they roll the credits over the end of this sketch.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show was shot on video so there’s little issues with the transfer. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The levels are good enough to hear Will pause to restrain a laugh. The sketches are Closed Captioned.
Audition (7:40) has Will’s first time on the SNL stage doing his Harry Caray impersonation for the producers. The voice of the Chicago Cubs does a not so exciting table reading of a play. He follow it up with a weak impersonation of Ted Kennedy at a comedy club. It’s not the type of audition that makes you scream “Superstar!”
Dress Sketches (11:04) are two sketches clipped before the actual live show. The first is Will as an Old Prospector going to Afghanistan to find Osama Bin Laden with an army unit. It’s a rather pointless and long sketch. The cast keeps cracking up on their lines. The second presents him as a hip substitute at a private boys school. In what amounts to a dirty version of Dead Poets Society, he wants to creatively inspire the boys and have them take off their pants.
Outtakes (7:03) are the highlights of his time on the show. Most of the footage is culled from the best moments of individual sketches. The best is Winona Ryder eating a roast chicken in a hot tub.
TV Appearances (16:42 and 9:14) is two visits with Conan O’Brien. The first time he’s Robert Goulet for the entire interview. The second time has him in a Speedo from Night at the Roxbury.
Photos (1:08) are publicity stills taken at the show.
More Sketches including “Lovers-Birthday,” “Yoga Class,” “Bill Brasky” and three Weekend Update moments. The best is when he announces he’s shacked up with Britney Spears on a farm. She was so cute before she went nuts.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Will Ferrell touches on his major characters from the cheerleader to Robert Goulet. The inclusion of “More Cowbell” makes this essential to people who want to enjoy the sketch without buying a complete season set. The nice part is getting to chart the course of Will’s exposed belly over the decade.
Lionsgate presents Saturday Night Live: The Best of Will Ferrell. Starring: Will Ferrell, Alec Baldwin, Christopher Walken and Garth Brooks. Running Time: 144 Minutes. Released on DVD: July 13, 2010.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.