Man of the Year 2008

The Nominees

Frat Pack Friends

Unlike 2007, there will not be a Man of the Year award for a non-Fratter. Last year’s winner Judd Apatow kept busy as the producer behind some of the favorite comedies of 2008. He produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, and Drillbit Taylor for theatres this year. In 2009, we can look for another Apatow production with Year One and his next writing/directing gig with Funny People.

Seth Rogen continued his string of well-received projects. Though his writing of Drillbit Taylor didn’t make a big impact, his action comedy Pineapple Express surely did. Rogen was both the star as well as writer and the film did well during a crowded summer of action-comedies. Rogen finished the year in the well-received Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The film was the biggest hit of Kevin Smith’s career but underperformed by Rogen’s standards.

Two animated films used Rogen’s recognizable voice effectively in 2008. Horton Hears a Who! was a smaller role than his role as one of the major characters in Kung Fu Panda. Both films costarred Frat Pack stars and friends. Rogen also had a cameo in Step Brothers. We also saw Seth join buddy Jonah Hill at the Oscars, and he has Observe and Report in the can for 2009. But, perhaps Rogen’s largest achievement is the weight he has shed in preparation for his anticipated turn as The Green Hornet.

Jonah Hill had a funny extended cameo in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and his chemistry with costar Russell Brand seems to have paid off with a costarring role in the sequel Get Him to the Greek, filming in 2009. The less said about Jonah’s winter 2008 film, the abomination known as Strange Wilderness, the better.

John C. Reilly improved his Frat Pack credentials by cowriting and costarring in Step Brothers with “the guys from Talladega Nights.” Many feld his role was most central in the movie and the movie was a $100 million hit. Reilly also starred in the oft-delayed The Promotion along with Seann William Scott and Jenna Fischer. The year ended with Reilly’s return to musical theatre opposite Jack Black in “Prop 8 The Musical.”

And, finally, we would be remiss without recognizing the stellar year-for-the-ages from the newest but most active Frat Pack member-in-training Danny McBridewho was literally everywhere in 2008. In fact, look at his resume of films and you will see a star-in-the-making.

  • Drillbit Taylor - as the heavy, opposite Owen Wilson
  • The Foot Fist Way - his breakthrough starring role (with promotional push from Stiller, Ferrell, and Rogen)
  • Pineapple Express - large and memorable supporting role
  • Tropic Thunder - an integral part of the best ensemble of the year

That’s an impressive resume of films, and McBride was a stand-out in all of them. So, is McBride considered a star yet? We’ll see in 2009 with his costarring role alongside Will Ferrell in the summer tentpole, Land of the Lost, and East Bound and Down, an anticpated series on HBO.

Luke Wilson

The Frat Pack’s youngest member kept a low-profile in 2008. Besides appearing at some celebrity golf tournaments, Luke’s cinematic output consisted of the indie release of Henry Poole is Here. The film had an interesting marketing angle, playing off the popularity of Obama imagery and The Bravery’s popular song, “Believe.” However, the film did not attract much attention and the planned late 2008 DVD release seems to have stalled.

Luke did spend much of 2008 filming the college romantic comedy Tenure with Gretchen Mol and Frat Pack friend David Koechner.

Owen Wilson

2008 was a far better year both professional and personal for Owen Wilson than 2007. Spring saw the release of the Drillbit Taylor, written by Seth Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow. The film was sort-of a PG-13 version of Superbad with Owen playing a former vet with questionable ethics. Depsite appearances by Frat Pack friends like Leslie Mann and Danny McBride, the film was only a mediocre success. Of course, Owen was not involved with the promotion of the film due to his personal problems in 2007.

Early in 2008 Owen started filming Marley & Me with Jennifer Aniston in Miami. Along the way we saw regular and often “tabloidy” reports from the set and other nearby locations. There were spy reports about the filming, such as the scene where the dog runs on the field at a Marlins baseball game. And we were regular updated to the revolving door of friends who made the trek to Miami to visit Owen, including Woody Harrelson (who was photographed skinny dipping in the ocean), Vince Vaughn, and a rekindled romance with Kate Hudson.

So, clearly there was a lot of pressure on Owen that the film be successful. Opening on Christmas Day, Marley was a surprise number one at the box office, and looks to be one of the biggest hits of Wilson’s career. Sure, the cute puppy on the poster and a popular costar are also bringing filmgoers to the theatres. But, it’s nice to see Owen recognized by audiences for doing his thing again in a popular and heartwarming film.

For 2009, Owen will reprise his role at Jedidiah in the Night at the Museum sequel.

Steve Carell

The Frat Pack’s member in name only had a great year in 2008, even though his Frat Pack connections are growing thinner and thinner. The Office is still going strong, and is in fact one of NBC’s highest rated shows. In cinemas Steve was the co-lead in the animated film Horton Hears a Who! alongside Jim Carrey. That film was well-received and was a big hit with audiences of all ages.

Following the oft-maligned 2007 summer tentpole Evan Almighty, there was pressure on Steve to turn things around with Get Smart in 2008. The film however was well made and effective in both parts of the “action-comedy” genre. Along with some great costars and effective marketing, Steve’s unrestrained performance was a key factor in the film’s big box office this summer. Taking in over $130 million, there is already talk of a sequel.

Vince Vaughn

Following the disapppointment of Fred Claus, Vince opened 2008 on an initial high note with the oft-delayed concert documentary,Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - Hollywood to the Heartland. Released into a handful of theatres, the film suffered from an anemic box office performance (perhaps induced by moviegoers opposed to films with extraordinarily long titles).

Things turned around at Thanksgiving with the boffo box office release, Four Christmases. Despite or perhaps enhanced by rumors of tension on the set with costar Reese Witherspoon, the film was a big hit and was a return to form for the “funny Vince” that audiences last really saw back in 2005’s Wedding Crashers. As a producer on the film, Vince surrounded himself with familiar friends and costars, including Jon Favreau, Patrick Van Horn, Mary Steenburgen, and Dwight Yoakam.

Vince is currently shooting a highly anticipated 2009 release, Couples Retreat. That film marks the directing debut of Vince’s pal Peter Billingsley (The Break-Up), in a film costarring and written by Jon Favreau. Also appearing are familiar faces Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, and Malin Akerman.

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell had two starring roles in 2008 with Semi-Pro and Step Brothers. The films appeared to use the same formula but with different results:

Formula
Semi-Pro
Step Brothers
Will Ferrell in Familiar Role Cocky sports-comedy character Manchild
Recognizable and Funny Costar Woody Harrelson John C. Reilly
R-Rating “Suck my Cock, I’ll kill your family” “The fucking Catalina Wine Mixer”
Crotch Humor Tight shorts freethrow Ballsack on drums
Will Sings “Love Me Sexy” “Por ti Volare” and “Boat n Hos”
No Female Costar Stacy Moon left on cutting room floor Therapist a girlfriend only in fantasy scene
Frat Pack Friends Will Arnett , Rob Corddy, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Theodore Shapiro, Kristen Wiig Adam McKay, Judd Apatow, Ian Roberts, Seth Rogen, Adam Scott, Horatio Sanz, Mary Steenburgen
Matt Walsh Cameo Father Pat the Ref Fan of 1970s Billy Joel
Total Box Office $33 million $100 million

Will also celebrated the first anniversary of his successful video site FunnyOrDie, reprised George Bush on SNL in preparation for a 2009 Broadway run, and filmed Land of the Lost.

The Runner-Up

Ben Stiller

It’s pretty hard to believe Ben isn’t our man of the year, though the editors here at The Trubute did have some debate on the matter. The Frat Pack’s main man did his part by writing, producing, starring, and directing Tropic Thunder, including casting his buds Jack Black and Owen Wilson in parts written expressly for them.

Of course, Owen had to drop out just prior to filming, but Ben relied on an amazing ensemble of A-list comedians and actors to help round out the satiric look at Hollywood: Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Justin Theroux, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and Robert Downey Jr. The film revived Cruise’s career and cemented Downey’s comeback; both actors were nominated for Golden Globe awards.

The film did it’s part to play well to both comedy fans as well as action fans, and the film was number one for three weeks on the way to $115 million - despite extremely edgy material that caused protests. The film garnered great reviews, and is clearly seen by many as Stiller’s best movie as a filmmaker.

Ben has his own animated hit with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The late-fall release saw critics saying it was an improvement over the original and box office fans packing theatres in similar amounts. If anything, Ben’s character had an even larger, more important lead role in the film. But, clearly, the quality of this movie was only the second-best from Dreamworks this year.

In 2009, Ben returns to the museum with the Memorial Day tentpole, Night at the Museum 2: Battle for the Smithsonian with a cast of apparent thousands.

The Frat Pack Man of the Year for 2008 is…

Jack Black

It isn’t so much that Jack’s highs were higher than Ben’s during 2008, but that he basically “outpointed” him with great work and numerous projects throughout the year. And, let’s face facts, Jack made several pro-Frat Pack statements during the year and that definitely counts for something in these here parts.

Be Kind Rewind was an anticipated 2007 release pushed back to Winter 2008. The film was marketed as an “indie” and did “indie” box office. The film was a mixed bag with critics as well.

But Jack was front and center in Dreamworks’ animated hit Kung Fu Panda. Voicing the title role and doing most of the promotion, Panda was big hit with audiences and surprisingly with critics as well. The film even made some Top 10 lists. Jack contributed the film’s catch-phrase, “Skidoosh!”

And while Jack’s actual part in Tropic Thunder was really a supporting one, you woudn’t have known it from the film’s marketing that put Jack either first or second billed. In fact, at several points in the summer you would have thought the film starred a single person named “Ben Black Downey, Jr.” And while Jack’s role may not have garned the most screentime, he might have captured the most laughs in Tropic Thunder, especially his hilarious, improved pleas while tied to a tree.

Another key accomplishment for Jack was the release of Tenacious D Masterworks, Vol 2, a two-disc DVD featuring live material from Jack’s musical group along with an insightful documentary D Tour: A Tenacious Documentary. That film debuted early in 2008 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and covered the group’s 2006 Frat Pack Classic movie and tour, including appearances by Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, John C. Reilly, and Andy Dick.

Jack continued high-profile award show hosting gigs in 2008, helming the Kids Choice Awards and the Video Games Awards.

Ending the year, Jack starred as Jesus in the viral video hit “Prop 8 the Musical” alongside John C. Reilly for FunnyOrDie.com. The film caused a stir and Jack’s role was a central one. He even did some interviews alongside Reilly to promote the video that was viewed more than three million times in less than two months.

Looking forward to 2009, Jack has Year One for Judd Apatow and Harold Ramis in the summer, along with a very high-profile cameo in a TV series mentioned earlier in this writeup.

Lastly, we must acknowledge Jack’s comments that were met with high acclaim here in Frat-land.

“I love it! All of them I think would like to destroy that thing, but I love it. I think those guys are great and I’m in there? Yeah! I’m the only card-carrying member that actually shows up for Frat Pack meetings!” (LA Times)

“This movie puts you in a better club. It’s called the Frat Pack! We unzip the door, we allow you in. We haven’t allowed a new member in, in like ten years since the Frat Pack was formed.” to Robert Downey, Jr. (Moviefone interview)

Congratulation to Jack Black, the Frat Pack Tribute Man of the Year

2008 Timeline

January

  • Michel Gondry appears at Chicago Apple Store to promote Be Kind Rewind
  • Luke Wilson golfs at Bob Hope Crysler Classic
  • Will Ferrell’s “Love Me Sexy” music video debuts
  • Will Ferrell accepts James Joyce award from University College Dublin
  • Drunk History Vol. 2 with Jack Black on FunnyOrDie

February

March

  • First image of Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder blows people away
  • Jonah Hill hosts Saturday Night Live
  • Steve Carell and Jim Carrey headline Horton Hears a Who!
  • Owen Wilson’s Drillbit Taylor opens modestly
  • Jack Black hosts Kids Choice Awards

April

May

  • Steve Carell interviewed in Playboy and appears on Wired cover
  • Jack Black promotes Kung Fu Panda in Cannes, “slips” word that Angelina Jolie is having twins
  • Steve Carell hosts Saturday Night Live
  • Fist Foot Way opens in limited release

June

  • Tropic Thunder Viral Video on MTV Movie Awards
  • Kung Fu Panda opens huge with great reviews
  • The Promotion opens in limited release
  • Get Smart opens at number one on way to $125m

July

  • Danny McBride in Drunk History vol. 3
  • Tenacious D perform at VH1 Rock Honors The Who
  • Andy Dick arrested for battery and public drunkedness
  • Will Ferrell accepts Male Sportsman of the Year for injured Tiger Woods at ESPYs
  • Step Brothers opens huge on way to $100m

August

September

  • Zack and Miri poster banned by MPAA
  • Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell insist there is no such thing as a the Frat Pack

October

  • Ben Stiller hosts Project A.L.S. gala in New York
  • Jack Black appears to honor Tim Robbins with Hollywood Star
  • Will Ferrell returns to SNL as George Bush
  • Amy Poehler and Will Arnett welcome baby boy Archie
  • Zack and Miri opens but audience plays Halloween trick
  • Will Ferrell returns to USC as Captain Compete

November

December

  • Jack Black and John C. Reilly headline viral video hit, Prop 8 the Musical
  • “Walk Hard” title song nominated for Grammy
  • Oscar buzz for Robert Downey Jr.
  • Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise nominated for Golden Globe awards
  • Jack Black hosts Video Game Awards
  • Ben Stiller breaks hand snowboarding
  • Marley & Me surprise number one at Christmas box office
  • The Frat Pack Tribute names Frat Pack Man of the Year…

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