Looking Back: Favorite Cameos of the Decade

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
By Kevin Crossman

In addition to frequent costarring appearances, the Frat Pack filmography also features a number of cameo appearances both from the primary member as well as close associates. The cameo itself is sort of an art-form in modern cinema, often leveraging a star’s known persona to make for a memorable scene or moment in a film. While these can sometimes be distracting in dramatic films (Harvey Keitel or Samuel L. Jackson’s voices in Inglourious Basterds) the rules are different for comedy. In fact, rather than a distraction these cameos can actually elevate a comedy.

For these picks, I eliminated a few roles that some might consider as a “cameo” such as Vince Vaughn’s in Anchorman. While Vince didn’t have a lot of screen time, I felt that he appeared several times throughout the film including a pivotal role in the film’s conclusion (in both the final film as well as the original ending seen in Wake Up, Ron Burgundy). Is it really that different than Luke Wilson’s role in the same film? Not a lot… but at least some. With few exceptions these are roles that are likely filmed in a single day.

cameo-stiller10. Ben Stiller as Arturo Mendes in Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story (2004)
The series of cameos in the Anchorman Rumble climaxes with Mr. Cameo himself, Ben Stiller. And, you have to admit, he probably has the most oft-repeated catch-phrases per second of screen time than any character in the history of cinema. I actually like his line “Of course” the best, an acknowledgement that the face and the hair are off-limits in the fight. As is often the case with Stiller, a wig and moustache complete the transformation.

Signature Line: “Tonight’s top story: the sewers run red with Burgundy’s blood”

cameo-carell9. Steve Carell as Uncle Arthur in Bewitched (2005)
Believe it or not, for a period in 2004-2005 Steve Carell was basically joined at Will Ferrell’s hip. After screaming his way through Anchorman and being Will’s best friend in Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda, Carell had a very cameo as Uncle Arthur in Ferrell’s 2005 summer tentpole. Channelling the original television series’ Paul Lynde, Carell was over-the-top flamboyant. It’s sad that this was the last on-screen appearance with Ferrell but it really is an incredible performance.

Signature Line: “Look what the cat dragged in!”

cameo-rudd8. Paul Rudd as Abel in Year One (2009)
The best scene in this uneven movie featured Rudd alongside David Cross as Cain and Abel. In fact, this scene was oft promoted prior to the film’s release and for good reason; it was by far the best scene in the movie. The DVD features the original ending and in many ways it is a shame that this version was not used in the film, especially since it puts a capper on this memorable and high-profile cameo from Paul Rudd.

Signature Line: “My brother is angry because God looked upon my sacrifice with favor.”

cameo-mcbride7. Danny McBride as Caucasian Crackhead in Observe and Report (2009)
We knew Danny McBride can do down-home trash funny but did we know he could do down-home scary? Well, after Observe and Report we know that McBride can play menacing as well as anyone. Considering that McBride often writes and appears in Jody Hill’s projects, it was no surprise to see that Hill found a place for his buddy to cameo. Of course, McBride does get a wise-crack into his appearance, but make no mistake this role is every bit as dark as Seth Rogen’s in the most misunderstood film of 2009.

Signature Line: “You suck this gun like a dick.”

cameo-hill6. Jonah Hill as Brundon the Security Guard in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
In addition to helping his friends by appearing in cameos, Ben Stiller likes to ask his friends to appear in his movies. And while the Night at the Museum movies aren’t exactly “edgy” material, you’d be hard-pressed to complain about the amount of comic talent in both films. Unlike the first film, Ben didn’t just go within his generation (Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson) but also to the next generation of comedians. As far as cameos go, Jonah Hill did a great job with his in the second Museum film. As the overzealous security guard, Hill stood toe to toe with Stiller for a few rounds before ultimately suffering a TKO.

Signature Line: “You’re movin in with some ITT, bro”

cameo-big-earl5. Will Ferrell as Big Earl in Starsky & Hutch (2004)
I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed harder in my life than the “interrogation” scene in Starsky & Hutch. Working with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, Ferrell played it low-key but crazy. Making things a bit funnier is the fact that the “Big Earl” character is referred to throughout as a criminal mastermind and then audiences meet him only to find out he’s a weird guy who wants to see two cops do strange things to each other. It’s true this character has a line or two in other parts of the film, but the interrogation scene does it for me every time.

Signature Line: “Oh, eureka. God, that’s nice. It’s like a little bowl of oatmeal with a hole in it. I got one too. I just got a little more brown sugar on mine.”

cameo-long4. Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman as The Beatles in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
It might be a cop-out to award the group but as far as cameos go the casting here is superb. Rudd, Long, and especially Schwartzman are dead ringers for their Beatles counterparts, not just physically but in the way they speak and deliver their lines. It’s true Black doesn’t exactly channel Paul McCartney, though I think he captures the rivalry with John Lennon quite well. Walk Hard featured a number of memorable cameos but this one is the one that most people remember.

Signature Line: “With meditation there’s no limit to what we can… imagine”

cameo-guitar-dude3. Ben Stiller as Guitar Center Guy in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)
This was sort-of a make good, as Stiller was as a producer of this film starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass. The Guitar Center Guy is actually a fairly pivotal role, as he has to explain the back story of the Pick of Destiny and basically set act two in motion. Along with another outrageous haircut, Stiller brings a certain wacked intensity to the fried rocker.

Signature Line: “I already went down that rabbit hole once, and I got news for you… there’s no cheese at the end of that tunnel buddy”

cameo-dick2. Andy Dick as Barry, the Oral Sex Instructor in Old School (2003)
It is not without irony that Dick had a plum cameo in Old School, as he was originally tapped to play Will Ferrell’s role as Mugatu in Zoolander. Nonetheless, Dick bring the perfect sense of sexuality to the role of an oral sex instructor that is at once creepy but also calming to his female clientele. Make sure to check the unrated version of Old School for even more outrageous lines.

Signature Line: “These carrots are not going to ejaculate themselves.”

cameo-chazz1. Will Ferrell as Chazz Reinhold in Wedding Crashers (2005)
Another slightly larger than one-scene role, but oh so pivotal to the plot of the film and the connection with audiences. I literally heard cheers from the audience when Ferrell’s shadowy profile was revealed. Ferrell’s first Chazz was intense and focused on his talent in life, while living the quintessential man-child existence. I often wonder if Wedding Crashers would have been as big of a hit as it was without this character and this actor playing the role.

Signature Line: “Ma, the meatloaf! Fuck!”

Honorable Mentions

  • Luke Wilson as Frank Vitchard in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  • Jason Bateman as Jason Bateman in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Vince Vaughn as Luke Zoolander in Zoolander
  • Will Ferrell as Dave in The Wendell Baker Story
  • Matt Walsh as Not for Pot Driver in Drillbit Taylor
  • David Koechner as Dad in Health Clinic in The 40 Year-Old Virgin
  • Will Ferrell as Michael, Brian’s Boyfriend in Boat Trip

6 Responses to “Looking Back: Favorite Cameos of the Decade”

  1. christian

    emimen in funny people

    #1015
  2. Rick

    Jack Black as the Angry Biker is #1

    #1017
  3. Kevin Crossman

    To be clear, I eliminated “celebrity” cameos from this list. So no Eminem, Lance Armstrong, Billy Zane, etc. That would be a good list, too, though.

    #1018
  4. Nathan

    It’s a bummer they couldn’t find another newscaster cameo for Owen Wilson in “Anchorman”, that would have been great. It was hilarious to see Stiller as a Mexican newscaster for the first time (and every time).

    #1021
  5. Rick Duran

    I might be remembering the details wrong, but I think Owen was originally asked to play the Tim Robbins role but was filming The Life Aquatic in Rome at the time

    #1023
  6. John Avs

    Yep Will Ferrel in wedding crashers was the best cameo, no doubt

    #1024

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