Man of the Year 2007

The Nominees

Owen Wilson

Owen made headlines in 2007 but for all the wrong reasons. As the press was nearing up at the end of August for his latest collaboration with longtime friend Wes Anderson, Owen was hospitalized in an apparent suicide attempt.  Brothers Andrew and Luke rushed to his aid while the press speculated for the reasons why Owen would want to end his life. Owen returned home after a few days but stayed incommunicado for several weeks before making his first public appearance at the Los Angeles premiere of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited.

Owen later made headlines after run-ins with photographers in Peru while on vacation with Woody Harrelson.

Professionally, Darjeeling was met with mixed reviews. The box office seemed to suffer as Owen’s real-life troubles seemed to mirror those of his character in the movie. Next spring will see the release of a traditional Owen Wilson comedy, Drillbit Taylor.

Though fans showed Owen a great outpouring of support during trying times, clearly this wasn’t his year.

Luke Wilson

Owen’s younger brother didn’t have a wonderful time in 2007 either. Besides the troubles with Owen, several unflattering photos surfaced of a distraught Luke coming and going from the hospital.

Cinematically, there wasn’t a lot for audiences to grab hold of either. Luke’s high-profile release was the horror flick Vacancy that didn’t scare up good reviews or business in theatres. Luke kept busy with a supporting role in the indie-drama You Kill Me and with a cameo in 3:10 to Yuma.

Luke’s expected summer romcom Blonde Ambition opposite Jessica Simpson and Andy Dick suffered from swirls of negative press and an awfully constructed trailer. The film had a limited and incredibly poor box office reception in December and will be coming to DVD in January 2008.

The best parts of Luke’s year were Frat Pack related. He had small cameo alongside Old School chum Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory, adding legitimate Frat Pack street-cred to the skating comedy produced by Ben Stiller.

Later in the year, the Wilson Brothers film The Wendell Baker Story finally had a small theatrical release in late spring. The quirky comedy written and co-directed by Luke also featured Owen in a supporting role along with a cameo from Will Ferrell. Fans loved being able to see this film that had lost distribution several times over the past three years and while the film didn’t impress at the box office, at least it is finally available to North American audiences on DVD.

Finally, we must applaud Luke for his many pro-Frat Pack comments during press for Wendell Baker. “I’m just glad to be considered part of the group” was the mantra Luke repeated and one that we endorse.

Ben Stiller

The man many consider the architect of the Frat Pack did his part to keep the group together in 2007. He produced Will Ferrell’s skating comedy Blades of Glory, featuring a cameo from Luke Wilson. Later in the year, we heard word of his 2008 action-comedyTropic Thunder, which Ben cowrote and will direct. Jack Black was then announced in a costarring role in the movie, in a part specifically written for him by his Envy costar. By summer, in a story first reported by the Tribute, we learned that Owen Wilson would have a part in the movie as well. Of course, Owen wasn’t able to fulfill that commitment after his personal troubles.

Things were less positive for Ben’s return to R-Rated comedy with October’s release of The Heartbreak Kid. Though this project was anticipated as a return to working with the genre and filmmakers from There’s Something About Mary, the film that made Ben a star, the sex comedy was poorly received by audiences and critics.

Ben picked up several awards this year, including the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year and a lifetime achievement “Wannabe Award” presented by good pal Jack Black at the Kids’ Choice Awards.

Jack Black

What was Jack up to? Not a whole lot as far as the general public was concerned. Sure, Jack’s “Comedian at the Oscars” song alongside Frat buddies Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly was the highlight of the Academy Awards. Jack presented his buddy Ben Stiller with a lifetime achievement award at the Kids’ Choice Awards. And he performed memorably on American Idol, singing “Kiss from a Rose.”

In terms of cinema, Jack’s 2007 films consisted of the indie dramaMargot at the Wedding and a Paul McCartney cameo in Walk Hard.Margot was met with middling reviews and non-existent box office, and the reviews for Jack’s role were mixed as well. Jack’s role as the former Beatle did lend true Frat Pack legitimacy to the biopic parody starring good friend John C. Reilly, however.

Of course, Jack seems to be set up well for a great 2008. Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind was pushed to late January 2008 from an expected 2007 release, plus Jack will be front and center for two summer releases, Tropic Thunder and the animated Kung Fu Panda.

Vince Vaughn

Vince was seen in two films this year, Fred Claus and Into the Wild, but overall the year was considered a disappointment for the man who’s been pretty reliable.

Sean Penn’s drama Into the Wild featured Vince in a small role but other actors overshadowed him and he was not featured in any of the advertising for the film. Still, it was nice to see Vince play the bad boy in a drama again.

The high profile project for Vince this year was the sibling holiday comedy Fred Claus. The film suffered from a strangely schizophrenic plot that alternated between dark comedy and family-friendly sentiment (“every kid deserves a present at Christmas”).  The movie did okay at the box office but overall must be considered a disappointment.

2008 will see the release of Vince’s oft-delayed standup documentary, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, and another holiday film, Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Jon Favreau.

Steve Carell

Remember 2005 when Steve Carell became a star after the success of The 40 Year-Old Virgin? And do you remember that Steve had his pick of scripts at that time? Well, 2007 was the year that showed whether Steve chose wisely or not.

What’s the difference between $100 million and $105 million? Not a lot on the face of it, but when $105 million is the unexpected gross of a low-budget and critically acclaimed R-Rated comedy (Virgin) and the other is the gross of a family-friendly summer tentpole sequel with a budget nearing $300 million (Evan Almighty) then those numbers seem widely different. Considering the poor box office by most of the other Fratters this year, let’s give Carell a bit of credit for putting out a pretty funny film that did pretty good at the box office. Evan also featured some nice supporting roles for Frat Pack friends Jonah Hill and John Michael Higgins.

Critics who hailed his performance as a highlight of the film received Steve’s fall release Dan in Real Life more warmly. The adult comedy pulled in $45 million, which wasn’t bad considering the marketing and lack of high-profile costars.

The Runner-Up

Will Ferrell

2006’s Frat Pack Man of the Year had another strong year in 2007. Will was front and center for another hilarious and warmly received sports comedy, Blades of Glory. Though Chazz Michael Michaels didn’t break any character molds, Will once again used all of his comedic assets (including a nearly naked body) to bring the funny. Of course, Blades also featured participation by other Fratters and numerous friends (Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Andy Richter, Romany Malco).

Will had no other theatrical releases in 2007, but spent the rest of the year filming two highly anticipated comedies for 2008. Semi-Pro adds basketball to Ferrell’s sports repertoire and Step Brothers will reunite Will with Talladega Nights pals John C. Reilly and Adam McKay.

Of course, the place where more people saw Will Ferrell in 2007 was the computer screen. Ferrell launched FunnyOrDie.com with Adam McKay with the viral video of the year, “The Landlord.”  Featuring McKay’s two year old daughter Pearl, the video was a breakout hit downloaded over 50 million times! By year’s end, FunnyOrDie was one of the few video sites to stay competitive with YouTube.

In any other year, Will would have been our Man of the Year. But not in 2007…

The Frat Pack Tribute Man of the Year for 2007 is…

Judd Apatow

Yes, we know Judd is not technically in the Frat Pack. But he had one of the most accomplished years in recent memory.

Apatow followed his 2005 writing/directing debut (Virgin) with an even bigger and more critically acclaimed film Knocked Up in early summer. Audiences and critics alike appreciated another raunchy film with a big heart. Apatow relied on familiar faces for most of the key roles, including his wife Leslie Mann, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill from Virgin, and familiar faces from his failed TV projects like Jason Segal, Martin Starr, and Jay Baruchel.

Then “the guy who brought you Talladega Nights and Knocked Up” came back with another hit with Superbad in late summer. The Apatow-produced teen comedy once again featured familiar faces and similar raunchy-with-a-heart-of-gold storyline. Superbad, like Knocked Up, was featured on numerous year-end top ten lists.

Apatow completed his banner year by writing and producing “the most important film of our time,” the biopic parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Though the film bombed at the box office, the film featured glowing reviews that were common for Apatow in 2007. Walk Hard included a plethora of familiar faces and cameos from the Apatow players (dubbed the “Apt Pack” by Steve Carell) and the title song cowritten by Apatow was nominated for a Golden Globe.

As if that wasn’t enough, Apatow cowrote the aforementioned “Comedian at the Oscars” song that earned numerous kudos. And Apatow joined Ferrell and McKay by producing videos such as “The Backlash” for FunnyOrDie. The bonus features and deleted scenes from Knocked Upand Superbad also used the internet effectively to both promote the films and to poke fun at the process of making movies (see “Finding Ben Stone”).

And what does 2008 have in store for Mr. Apatow? He has Owen Wilson’s next comedy, Drillbit Taylor, costarring Leslie Mann.  He’s also producing Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Pineapple Express with release dates similar to his Knocked Up andSuperbad precursors. And he is producing Step Brothers with his Talladega buddies Ferrell, Reilly, and McKay and The Year Onefor Jack Black.

Even though “The Gagfather” isn’t technically in the pack The Frat Pack Tribute editors were unanimous in choosing Judd Apatow as our Man of the Year. Congratulations.

2007 Timeline

January

  • Idiocracy DVD released
  • Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show Debuts
  • 826LA Fundraiser honors Seth Rogen (Ben, Will, etc. in attendance)
  • Frat Pack Tribute MySpace, LiveJournal sites launch

February

  • Ben, Owen, Jack and Chris Rock on Vanity Fair cover
  • BudTV launches with Vince’s WWCS trailer
  • Little Miss Sunshine wins Best Picture at Earmuff Awards
  • Ben Stiller is Hasty Pudding’s man of the year
  • Jack, Will, and John C. Reilly are “Comedians at the Oscars”

March

  • IMDB Poll rates Steve #1 as favorite Frat Pack actor
  • Jack signs to appear in Stiller helmed Tropic Thunder
  • Will appears on last print issue of Premiere magazine
  • Blades of Glory skates to gold medal at box office (with cameo from Luke Wilson)
  • “Arnett has seen the Circle” – Tribute visits set of Semi-Pro
  • Jack Black presents Ben Stiller with Lifetime Achievement Award at Kids Choice Awards

April

  • “The Landlord” and Will Ferrell’s FunnyorDie website debuts
  • IMDB Poll rates Paul Rudd as most qualified to join the Frat Pack
  • Luke stars in horror film Vacancy – middling box office
  • Jack sings “Kiss from a Rose” on American Idol

May

  • Wendell Baker Story (finally) opens in limited release
  • Frat Pack “Shout” Video Launches
  • The Ex opens with Bateman, Poehler, Rudd
  • Blonde Ambition Trailer appears; universally panned
  • Tribute is first outlet to report on Wilson, Cruise, Coogan appearing in Tropic Thunder
  • Tribute coverage of Wilson Brothers Times Talk in NYC
  • Paul Rudd drops word he’ll be playing Lennon in Walk Hard with Jack as McCartney

June

  • Knocked Up opens to bulging box office and critical acclaim
  • Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman confirmed as George and Ringo inWalk Hard
  • Tribute visits set of Forgetting Sarah Marshall; interview with stars
  • Will and Sacha kiss on MTV Movie Awards
  • Vince and Jon inducted into Guy Movie Hall of Fame (Spike TV awards)
  • Evan Almighty opens to okay box office (except compared to film’s budget)
  • Luke appears in indie film You Kill Me

July

  • Josh Watts counts down Top 10 Frat Pack soundtracks
  • Talladega Nights wins ESPY for best sports movie
  • Christine Spidell reports on early screening of Fred Claus
  • Maxim names Apatow the ‘Gagfather’ and outlines crime family of comedy with Ferrell, Carell, et. al.

August

  • Tribute interviews author of college paper on ‘Metalanguage’ of Frat Pack movies
  • The Ten opens with Paul Rudd
  • Superbad graduates with big box office and great reviews
  • Owen Wilson announced to star with Jennifer Aniston in Marley and Me
  • Steve Carell wins two Teen Choice Awards; Will wins one
  • Owen Wilson hospitalized

September

  • Luke cameo in 3:10 to Yuma
  • The Brothers Solomon opens to baby box office
  • Steve Carell “awarded” Emmy by Stewart and Colbert
  • Matthew McConaughey replaces Owen in Tropic Thunder
  • Into the Wild opens with supporting role by Vince
  • Tribute coverage of New York Film Festival, including The Darjeeling Limitedand Margot at the Wedding

October

  • Owen appears at Darjeeling’s L.A. premiere
  • The Heartbreak Kid breaks box office hearts
  • Steve Carell coins “Apt Pack”
  • Judd Apatow joins Funny or Die
  • The Comebacks fumbles at box office
  • Dan in Real Life opens to positive reviews, okay box office
  • Wendell Baker Story on DVD
  • Tribute spy report of Poehler in Baby Mama

November

  • Steve Carell walks off set of The Office on first day of Writers Strike
  • Fred Claus opens with lump of coal at box office
  • Katherine Heigl calls Knocked Up ’sexist’
  • Margot at the Wedding opens to limited release

December

  • John C. Reilly tours at Dewey Cox
  • Will Ferrell honored as Celebrity Athlete of the Year at Endurance Sports Awards
  • Blonde Ambition straight to video in ‘08 after opening in eight Texas theatres; unbelievably low box office
  • John C. Reilly nominated for Golden Globe in Walk Hard
  • Apatow “Backlash” video features image from Tribute site
  • Italian magazine Nocturno honors Frat Pack
  • Walk Hard is “Guilty as Charged” at box office
  • The Frat Pack Tribute names Frat Pack Man of the Year…

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