Man of the Year 2010
With no films released in 2010, the major accomplishment for Vaughn was the birth of his first child. Vaughn also spent time filming The Dilemma for a release in early 2011, and performing in a series of live events with costar Kevin James to promote the film. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Vaughn was the controversy around the line “electric cars are gay” in the teaser trailer for The Dilemma. A variety of groups potested the word as hate-speech, but Vaughn eventually issued a statement defending the line and saying that comedy brings people together.
2008’s Man of the Year had a quiet 2010. In February, his band Tenacious D headlined a benefit for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, featuring friends such as Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Jason Segel, Russel Brand and others. Black later guested on an episode of Community that also featured a cameo by Owen Wilson. At Christmas, Black’s effects-driven family film Gulliver’s Travels debuted to poor box office and worst reviews. Promotional appearances alongside costar Jason Segel showed that the pair had true chemistry, something not seen in the actual film.
As always, Ben Stiller was a constant presence during the year even if most of the projects weren’t met with typical acclaim. In the spring, indie comedy Greenberg debuted. The Noah Baumbach production featured Stiller as a bitter and mean man without direction in life. Stiller received some good reviews for his performance, but the film failed to catch on. Later in the year, Stiller produced and appeared in a small role in the animated production Megamind, starring Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill. The Dreamworks production made about $140 million, which many considered only so-so compared to expectations and the performance of past films from the studio.
Most anticipated by most fans of the actor was December’s Litte Fockers, the third film in the series. The film was a hit, though considerably less than the previous installment. Worse, reviews were scathing. Still, many fans were happy to see the return of Stiller’s character, Greg Focker, and a bounty of high-profile costars including Owen Wilson, Robert DeNiro, and Dustin Hoffman.
2010 was a comeback year, of sorts, with several oft-delayed projects seeing the light of day. The college rom-com Tenure was released direct to video after playing at several film festivals in 2009. The indie project appeared first at Blockbuster video stores before being available on store shelves. The film that costarred David Koechner and Gretchen Mol didn’t have a huge impact, though some of us thought it was one of the best of year. With a role written expressly for him, Tenue proved once again that Wilson can carry a film given the right material.
Wilson had a supporting role opposite Zoe Saldana and Chris Rock in Death at a Funeral in the spring, then followed up with the internet-porn crime drama Middle Men in August. That film certainly had some buzz, and Wilson was the star of the film. But, the delayed indie didn’t take off in limited release and will soon find it’s way to home video in early 2011. Wilson also spent time in 2010 filming the series Enlightened, coming to HBO in 2011.
Nobody had more Frat Pack connections in 2010 than Owen Wilson. In addition to an expanded role as a comic foil in Litte Fockers, Wilson had a large supporting role opposite Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd in How Do You Know. Playing a charming lothario, Wilson displayed his trademark charm in the film.
In addition to the Community cameo opposite Jack Black, Wilson also spent time filming Hall Pass for the Farrelly Brothers, costarring with Jason Sudekis, Christina Applegate, and Jenna Fischer. He also filmed The Big Year with Jack Black and Steve Martin, in a film produced by Ben Stiller. Both films are set for release in 2011, leading some to think that Wilson is the favorite for Man of the Year next year.
Rudd followed up his banner 2009 with two starring role opposite Frat Pack stars. In both films, Rudd was more the straight man but still able to display some of the likable charm that has made him a winning star. In the summer, Dinner for Schmucks debuted with Steve Carell. The farce was a remake of a French comedy and there were several scenes that allowed Rudd to display some deft physical humor. He was overshadowed by Carell who had the showier role, however.
In December, Rudd costarred with Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson in James L. Brooks’ How Do You Know. The film had some early Oscar buzz, including some for Rudd who had the second lead role. However, when the film finally arrived the reviews were poor and audiences stayed away. Depsite a budget of over $100 million ($3 million of which went to Rudd), the film has made only about $30 million domestically.
Ferrell starred in two high-profile releases in the second half of 2010. The Other Guys was a big summer action-comedy hit costarring Mark Wahlberg. Directed and co-written by frequent collaborator Adam McKay, The Other Guys leveraged a host of high profile costars to become one of Ferrell’s biggest hits. The film also featured Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Rob Riggle, Dwyane Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. The film’s buddy-cop template proved to be a fresh take on the “bromance” angle often seen in Frat Pack style films. Though the film was a big hit (especially after 2009’s Land of the Lost disaster), 2010 was sort of a “status quo” year for Ferrell.
Megamind featured Ferrell as the lead character, a “bad guy” turned good. The film did “okay” business, depsite Ferrell’s over-the-top promotion, including apperances at venues such as Comic-Con. Another film, Everything Must Go, is a comedy-drama that was featured at some film festivals during the Fall.
2010 kept Ferrell busy in other ways. After appearing at the Tenacious D benefit concert (dancing to “Popcorn”), Funny or Die Presents debuted as a late-night anthology series on HBO. Taking clips from the Funny or Die website and integrating with newly produced material, the show was renewed for a second season to debut in January 2011. Ferrell also continued to produce Eastbound & Down for HBO, starring Danny McBride.
The placement of Frat Pack friend Jonah Hill was subject to some debate by the Tribute editors, some of whom had him at the top of their lists. 2010 was in many ways a breakout year for the star of films such as Superbad and Funny People.
Hill’s voice was featured in two Dreamworks Animation productions. He had a supporting role in How To Train Your Dragon, alongside Jay Baruchel. He later lent his voice as the antagonist of Megamind. That film allowed Hill to voice his two typical personas, first as the obsessive toady, and later as the arrogant mysogonist. Thanks in large part to the dual aspect of this role, Hill’s vocal work outshined that of his more famous costars.
But 2010 will be most remembered a career watershed for Hill, who turned in two very different lead performances. First up was the rock-roadtrip Get Him to the Greek, which was a sequel to 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The film returned Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow to the big screen, but in the sequel Hill played a completely different character. Aaron Green was the film’s central role, and demonstrated Hill’s ability to play a likable protagonist. This was a big turning point for Hill who often has played mean or unsympathetic characters in the past. In addition to demonstrating dexterity at physical humor, Hill also demonstrated he could top-line a high-profile film. Despite an R-rating, Greek did good business in the early summer.
Also opening during the summer was a completely different kind of comedy. Cryus starred Frat Pack regular John C. Reilly in a Duplass Brothers indie production. Hill played the title character, a sheltered young man who does not adapt well to his mother (Marisa Tomei) dating the character played by Reilly. In this film, Hill dialed his loud persona way way down. But it was still a nuanced and very powerful performance. The film was not a hit even by indie standards but the film importantly showed that Jonah Hill has true range as an actor.
Hill’s great work has set him up for a number of even higher-profile projects in 2011. He is toplining an R-rated summer comedy The Sitter, and is costarring alongside Brad Pitt in the drama Moneyball. And it looks increasingly likely that Hill’s long-gestating 21 Jump Street film will finally go before cameras in 2011.
With his quality performances and growing star power, 2010 was Hill’s banner year.
The Frat Pack Man of the Year: Steve Carell
After not appearing on the big screen in 2009, you’d have been hard-pressed to miss Carell in 2010. The 2005 Frat Pack Man of the Year is our winner again this year.
One notable event occured not on screen but in the press. Carell announced that he would not be renewing his contract for TV’s The Office after the 2010-2011 season. This led to a series of very effective episodes during the fall, with renewed life for the series that seemed to be coasting in recent years. Though many are leery of a Carell-less Office, the season-long swan song has proven to be a creative watershed.
Carell’s return to the silver screen in the spring was in the action-comedy Date Night, costarring Tina Fey. The film from Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy included a number of cameos from high-profile stars including Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Leighton Meester, and Ray Liotta. The film followed many of the same beats as Carell’s successful Get Smart comedy, with lots of laughs and action mixed together. Though the characterization of Carell’s character could in some ways be hardly called a stretch, the film mixed comedy with some reflective moments that hit home with many married couples. Though the film featured two “TV stars” the production values and enjoyable appearances by film stars made Date Night a big hit with strong legs at the box office.
During the summer Carell headlined the gigantic animated hit Despicable Me. Carell played the film’s central character, a “bad guy” with a heart of gold called Gru. Carell even invented a unique accent for the role. The film grossed over half a billion dollars worldwide, with Carell as essentially the sole “name” to sell the movie with.
Finally, Carell starred in perhaps the most typical “Frat Pack” style film of the year, Dinner for Schmucks. The farce from director Jay Roach had several elements seen in past Frat Pack films, such as a “bromantic” angle featuring a “quiet one” and a “loud one.” In Schmucks, Carell played the “loud” one, an “idiot” used by an everyman protagonist played by Paul Rudd. The role was Carell’s most outrageous in years, though his portrayal also featured some quiet and often emotional moments as well. The film was a medium hit that was met with mixed reviews, but some of us thought it was hilarious.
Steve Carell was the most successful member of the Frat Pack in 2010 across a number of high-profile projects. That’s why he is the Frat Pack Man of the Year.