Every Adam McKay movie ranked

Movie Maker Adam McKay has been at the forefront of Hollywood for decades now. From his time as lead writer onwards Saturday Night Live to then be perhaps the most successful comedy film director of his generation with his run of collaborations with a comic star Will Ferrell, McKay has now become a price magnet and a lightning rod for political discourse as a producer of socially conscious satires. McKay’s newfound aura of prestige has also extended to the small screen as he was a key figure in the development of the hit HBO series Succession and directed it shows pilot, and is also spearheading the upcoming series about Magic Johnson and Showtime Lakers with the title; Winning time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. The following is a ranking of all of McKay’s feature films as a director from worst to best when we compare the different periods of his career on the big screen.

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8. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman's cast
Image via DreamWorks Pictures

The anticipation for the return of Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and the Channel 4 news team was palpable at the time of this sequel’s release. Unfortunately, the movie begins with a shoehorn cameo from the pop star Drake and only goes downhill from there. The story is way too complicated, which is a shame for a comedy that is so heavily reliant on improvisation. McKay’s interest in social commentary may be to blame here, as the plot focuses on the rise in 24-hour news coverage, and how this has greatly damaged media credibility, which are not exactly themes that go well with a film that features a cameo. from the ghost of Stonewall Jackson (John C. Reilly). While there are some bright spots in the film, such as Champ’s (David Koechner) deep-fried bat restaurant, it is ultimately too long with a lot of meandering scenes and overly full of celebrities. Another entrance to the ash heap of disappointing comedy sequels.

7. Do not look up

Picture via Netflix

Do not look up, a dark satire, follows two scientists (Leonardo dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence), who discovers a planet-killing asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth, but when they try to share their findings and warn people, they are met with apathy and disinterest from the White House, the media and the public at large. The film is designed as a parable for climate change and how society has engaged in the existential threat, but offers very little original insight on the subject to anyone who is aware.

The film boasts a star cast that includes Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as a couple of TV hosts turning news into infotainment, and Timothee Chalamet as a pothead skateboarder. Meryl Streep plays the unqualified president of the United States, who is more preoccupied with polls and her own scandals than about the looming apocalypse, while her mentally retarded son is her chief of staff, played by an extra cheeky Jonas Hill. The film addresses a number of targets for its satirical dissection and hits some of them, but it gets misled and sticks to its broad scope. It’s weird to get away from a movie about the doom of the world and feel very little.

6. Vice

Image via mirror release

McKay is hiring former Haliburton CEO Dick Cheney in this sharp biography documenting how Cheney rose to become vice president George W. Bush and assumed executive responsibility for the office, leading to the war in Iraq. Christian Bale plays the lead role as Cheney in a distinctive transformation that prompted him to be nominated for an Oscar while Amy Adams gives a strong performance as his wife Lynne Cheney, and Bush is portrayed by an always wonderful Sam Rockwell. Many people have complained that the film is not revealing to those who went through the period, but future generations may have a different reaction to the film’s interpretation of this administration, while the star performance and entertaining direction make it worth watching.

5. The other guys

Image via Sony Pictures Release

This parody of police comedy movies is centered around two inconsistent NYPD officers, Allen Gamble (Ferrell), a mildly educated forensic accountant, and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), a hothead who is on desk service after accidentally shooting a Yankee player Derek Jeter during the World Series. This hilarious action-comedy is packed with good jokes and memorable scenes, including a quiet fight at a police funeral, Allen’s pimp-persona “Gator” and a TLC quoting the police captain played by Michael Keaton. But the film is no doubt stolen from Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as they make the fateful decision to aim at the bushes. Throws in Steve Coogan as the primary antagonist and you have a fun and memorable action-comedy hit.

4. The Big Short

The big short
Image via Paramount Pictures

This comedy-drama marked a sharp new direction for McKay. His first film without the usual superstar Will Ferrell told the story of the prelude to the financial crash in 2008 and featured an impressive cast that includes Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan gosling, and Brad Pitt. The film incorporates a dark comic tone to explore this global catastrophe, leading to McKay receiving great acclaim for translating what is often a close and difficult-to-understand subject into a digestible and, all-important, entertaining film that gave him an Oscar for edited script.

3. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights
Image via Sony Pictures Release

This appealing comedy follows the idiotic Nascar driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), who loses everything and is forced to move in with his mother, after a devastating crash causes him to lose the nerve behind the wheel. In what is arguably McKay’s most poignant commentary on Bush’s America, as it sets the tone for the airy male ego that was so prevalent in the culture at the time. The movie has some funny lines and Sacha Baron Cohen gives a memorable ride when Ricky’s nemesis, Jean Girard, the French Formula 1 champion became Nascar driver. It is also known for cementing Ferrell as the greatest comedy star of his generation and revealed character actor John C. Reilly to be a gifted cartoonist in his role as Ricky’s best friend, Cal Naughton Jr.

2. Stepbrothers

Image via Sony Pictures Release

Two male children, Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly), are forced to live together after their parents get married. A simple premise stretched to its comic limits in this modern classic that gets more fun with each show. Ferrell and Reilly cement themselves as one of the big double acts in comedy, while continuing to beat each other up until the credits roll. The film also offers some fun performances from the supporting cast, among others Richard Jenkins as the increasingly independent family patriarch and Adam Scott as Derek, Brennan’s monstrous little brother. A wildly funny and incredibly dirty riot.

1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Image via DreamWorks Pictures

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is one of the funniest movies of the 21st century, or at least it’s in the conversation. McKay’s feature film debut introduced the world to Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and ushered in a new era of comedy. The film takes place in the 1970s San Diego and follows Ron, a local news anchor and misogynist who is threatened by a new female anchor named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who may just be better at the job than he is. The film helped make stars of its upcoming cast, which included Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd, and it is also known for using impromptu dialogue that makes it like no other comedy film in the game. Anchor is an approximately as strong debut as any other filmmaker has patterned and is rightly considered a modern classic.

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