Man of the Year 2011

Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black

Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black

2011 kicked off with perhaps the biggest Frat Pack gathering since the Anchorman rumble, and easily the Moment of the Year. The Beastie Boys debuted their short film Fight for Your Right Revisited at the Sundance Film Festival. The clip, a long-form music video for their track Make Some Noise, featured Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood as the Beasties from the Fight For Your Right video battling the “Beasties of the Future”, Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly. The video featuring endless cameos from familiar faces including Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, David Cross, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Rashida Jones, among countless others.

The Girls of Summer: Bridemaids

Bridemaids

However, the Frat Pack stars didn’t factor into this year’s Summer of R-Rated Comedy phenomenon. Todd PhillipsThe Hangover Part II kicked off the wave of comedy blockbusters that would include Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses, each grossing between $100-240 million. Producer Judd Apatow earned his hugest box office success to-date with the Paul Feig-directed Bridesmaids, whose good fortunes would extended into awards season with multiple nominations from the Golden Globes (including Best Motion Picture - Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy for Kristen Wiig) and the Screen Actors Guild (Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy.) This summer’s watershed of comedy blockbusters paved the way for several performers to have major career breakthroughs, including McCarthy (now touted as a frontrunner for an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids), SNL’s Jason Sudeikis (channeling his inner Vince Vaughn in both Horrible Bosses and the modestly-peforming Hall Pass), and Ed Helms, whose Hangover success paved the way for a lead role in the critically acclaimed indie Cedar Rapids and taking over for Steve Carell as the boss on The Office.

The Underperformers

Danny McBride

Danny McBride in 30 Minutes or Less

Danny McBride

One star who struck-out twice at attempting to ride this year’s R-Rated Comedy Train was McBride. His first attempt at headlining a major studio comedy, Your Highness, was one of the year’s most expensive flops, despite high profile costars James Franco and Natalie Portman. He returned in late August for the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less, costarring with Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari. While the film earned back its production cost, its mediocre box office performance was disappointing, considering audiences’ hunger for adult-humored comedies. McBride spent most of the year filming the final season of Eastbound & Down, which premieres in Spring 2012 on HBO.

Vince Vaughn

The usually box office-reliable Vaughn delivered a rare misfire early in January with the poorly-reviewed The Dilemma. The film grossed only $48 million, less than half of what his comedies usually earn. 2012 is looking promising for Vaughn, who will co-headline Neighborhood Watch with Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill, his first major Frat Pack film since 2005.

The Also-Rans

John C. Reilly

The part-time Frat Pack member spent 2011 returning to his indie film roots, appearing in four small features including Terri, Carnage, the Oscar-buzzed We Need to Talk About Kevin, and a scene-stealing turn in Ed Helms’ Cedar Rapids, which earned Reilly a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson in Enlightened

Luke Wilson in Enlightened

For the first time in… well, forever, Luke Wilson finally had some good career news. After years of being stuck in straight-to-video indies, Wilson landed a supporting role on HBO’s critically acclaimed dramedy Enlightened. Playing ex-husband to the show’s star Laura Dern, Wilson turned in a solid work. Despite modest ratings, the show was rewarded with a second-season renewal and two Golden Globe nominations, including Best Comedy Series. Wilson finished the year with an awkward cameo in a Budweiser commercial starring LMFAO, and filming a supporting role in the ensemble drama Elvis and Nixon.

Paul Rudd

The 2009 Frat Pack Man of the Year had an understated 2011, with his only major appearance being August’s Our Idiot Brother. The indie comedy was this year’s big purchase at the Sundance Film Festival, being acquired for $8 million. While the film, costarring familiar faces Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Zooey Deschanel and Adam Scott, grossed a modest $24 million, it did showcase a shockingly dramatic moment in its third act, giving Rudd one of his best performances to date. Paul Rudd was expected to be seen again in October, alongside Jennifer Aniston in Wanderlust, however that film was shelved until February 2012. Rudd also spent 2011 filming This Is Forty, Judd Apatow’s spin-off from Knocked Up, slated for a Christmas 2012 release.

Will Ferrell

ferrell-carell-office

Will Ferrell and Steve Carell

Ferrell had an unexpectedly subdued 2011, with his only film role being May’s indie dramedy Everything Must Go. Playing an alcoholic on the verge of a breakdown, Ferrell used the project to prove he’s not afraid of taking chances. However, neither critics or audiences were fond of the film, which only grossed $2.7 million in its limited release. Ferrell’s most high-profile role was his stunt-casting guest arc on The Office, playing Deangelo Vickers, the ill-fated interim regional manager of Dunder Mifflin, following the exit of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. While the guest role was met with a mixed reaction from fans and critics, it was a nice Frat Pack send-off to his Anchorman costar Carell.

Ferrell’s voice played an unexpected cameo, with dialogue clips from Blades of Glory appearing in Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hit single “N**gas in Paris.” Ferrell told MTV he’s interested in shooting a video for the song, though no plans have been announced. Finally, Will Ferrell received the highest honor of his career, being selected to receive the Mark Twain Award for American Comedy from the Kennedy Center. His Frat Pack friends Jack Black, Paul Rudd and John C. Reilly were among the stars on-hand at the ceremony.

Ben Stiller

Like Ferrell, Stiller also received a career-spanning honor, winning the Charlie Chaplin Award from the BAFTAs. His sole big screen appearance was the ensemble comedy Tower Heist. The film performed modestly below expectations ($75 million domestically, $125 worldwide), surrounded by negative buzz beyond Stiller’s control, including the preposterous scrapped plan to release the film on VOD for $60 during its theatrical run. The film was also plagued by bad press caused by director Brett Ratner’s homophobic remarks which resulted in him resigning as producer of the 2012 Oscar telecast, and Tower Heist costar Eddie Murphy exiting as host. Stiller should have better luck with 2012’s summer tentpole Neighborhood Watch.

Jack Black

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson in The Big Year

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson in The Big Year

It was a mixed year for the 2008 Frat Pack Man of the Year. He started off the year with some unexpected good fortune, as his Gulliver’s Travels earned an astonishing $194 million overseas, despite its disappointing $42.7 million flameout in the United States. Black had mild success with Kung-Fu Panda 2. While the animated sequel grossed a respectable $165 million, its numbers were a far cry from its predecessor’s $215 million back in 2008. Black earned decent reviews for his dramatic turn in the dark comedy Bernie, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, slated for a 2012 release.

But reviews and box office were both disasterous for his Frat Pack co-headlining role alongside Owen Wilson in The Big Year. Despite numerous press appearances with Wilson and costar Steve Martin, the film tanked with only $7 million, making it the year’s worst performer when compairing its cost ($41 million) to its earnings. Jack Black had better luck a month later, with a larger-than-expected cameo in pal Jason Segel’s The Muppets. Black finished the year recording a third Tenacious D album, as the group opened for the Foo Fighters on the Australian leg of their tour.

The Finalists

Steve Carell

Steve Carell

Steve Carell

The two-time Frat Pack Man of the Year had a very significant 2011, with his highly publicized exit from his starring role on The Office. His departure ignited a creative spark to the show, which had been coasting in recent years, including guest appearances from his Anchorman co-stars Will Ferrell and David Koechner. Carell was shockingly snubbed of an Emmy win during this year’s telecast, going home empty-handed 6 years in a row. Steve Carell’s plan of fully focusing on his film career got off to a great start this summer with the ensemble comedy Crazy Stupid Love. Playing straight alongside wackier performances from actors such as Ryan Gosling and Marisa Tomei, the film presented the year’s best mix of comedy, drama and romance, easily ranking as Carell’s best film since Little Miss Sunshine.

With his new-found free time, Carell filmed a FunnyorDie self-parodying video promoting Crazy Stupid Love, and a guest spot for Saturday Night Live in a live action take on the Ambiguously Gay Duo, alongside Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon. Carell’s next few years are booked solid, being attached to at least seven upcoming project including Frank or Francis with Jack Black and Nicolas Cage and Burt Wonderstone opposite Jim Carrey. He’ll next be seen in April’s Looking for a Friend at the End of the World.

Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller

Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller

It was a very busy year for Seth Rogen, both professionally and personally. Rogen began his year with the long-anticipated release of his passion project The Green Hornet. Handling starring, producing and writing duties, the film grossed a respectable $98 million, though it received mixed reactions from audiences and critics. Rogen provided voiceover work, playing the title role in the ensemble comedy Paul, while reprising his role as the grasshopper in Kung-Fu Panda 2.

Rogen co-starred and co-produced the cancer dramedy 50/50. The independent film, produced for only $8 million, grossed a profitable $35 million and Rogen’s producing credits earned him Best Picture nominations at both the Golden Globes and Independent Spirit awards, shared with his frequent production partner Evan Goldberg. In October, Rogen married his longtime girlfriend Lauren Miller. Rogen and Miller also served as co-chairs, launching the “Hilarity for Charity” fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Awareness, which Miller’s mother suffers from. The two spoke to Larry King during the summer to spread awareness about the disease. On a lighter note, Rogen will be seen in the Spring 2012 roadtrip comedy My Mother’s Curse opposite Barbara Streisand, and is preparing to co-direct The Apocalypse, his all-star horror comedy which he’ll costar with Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill and James Franco.

Jason Segel

Jason Segel and Amy Adams from The Muppets

Jason Segel and Amy Adams

One of the only familiar faces around here to ride the Summer of Comedy good fortunes was Jason Segel. He turned in a very funny supporting role in the surprise hit Bad Teacher. But Segel’s major accomplishment was bringing his dream project, The Muppets, to life. Segel starred in the hit Disney film (alongside Amy Adams), in addition to co-writing and co-producing with frequent collaborator Nicholas Stoller. The film opened to a massive $41 million over the Thanksgiving weekend, paired with glowing reviews across the board. The Muppets featured many high profile cameos including Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Neil Patrick Harris, Ken Jeong, Dave Grohl, John Krasinski and Sarah Silverman among others. Since its release, The Muppets has grossed a moderate $75 million, somewhat below expectations for a holiday family release. The film was also surprisingly absent from the Comedy/Musical categories at this year’s Golden Globe nominations. However, Segel deserves total credit for revitalizing the Muppet franchise, one that he holds dear to his heart, speaking almost nonstop about the project since his career breakthrough year in 2008.

He received good reviews for his November stint hosting Saturday Night Live, which featured cameos from the Muppets, in addition to a very racy “Kissing Family” sketch, locking lips with his I Love You, Man co-star Paul Rudd, bringing a whole new meaning to the term “bromance.” Segel spent his summer hiatus filming The Five Year Engagement, another project co-written and directed by Nicholas Stoller. The Judd Apatow-produced project hits theaters in April. Segel also reprised his Knocked Up role, filming for a cameo in Apatow’s upcoming This is Forty.

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill

Last year’s runner-up continued his growing career traction, receiving perhaps the best press coverage out of any of the stars mentioned on this list. Hill started off the year showing a dramatic weight loss of over 40 lbs at various events. Shedding the weight while he filmed his passion project 21 Jump Street (which he starred, co-produced and co-wrote), Hill looked almost unrecognizable compared to his physique just one year ago. Hill continued the positive buzz with a co-starring role in the Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball. Performing a subtle take on his familiar stressed-out staff worker persona (seen in previous performances like Get Him to the Greek and Evan Almighty), Hill demonstrated an impressive dramatic range (previously hinted at in 2010’s Cyrus.) Hill was rewarded with unexpected Best Supporting Actor nominations from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild, now making him almost a virtual lock for an Academy Award nomination.

Jonah Hill also launched the animated series Allen Gregory which he co-created, part of Fox’s Sunday night lineup. Hill voices the lead character, a pretentious seven year-old child with the mind of a socialite. The series debuted to middling ratings and poor reviews, leaving its future in question. Hill ended his year headlining the R-Rated comedy The Sitter. The film, was met with mostly negative reviews and mediocre earnings, grossing just $22 million. Hill should have a very positive 2012. In addition to his possible Oscar nomination, Hill will be seen in March’s 21 Jump Street and July’s Frat Pack comedy Neighborhood Watch with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.

The Runner Up

Owen Wilson

Owen Wilson

Owen Wilson

Last year, it appeared that Owen Wilson was an easy bet for Man of the Year 2011. With four high-profile releases, he definitely has a high number of points. It’s the degree of success those projects received that ultimately has him as our runner-up. Owen began the year headlining the raunchy R-Rated comedy Hall Pass. Directed by the Farrelly Brothers, Wilson had a nice chemistry with co-star Jason Sudeikis, a scene-stealer whose manic energy drew comparisons to Vince Vaughn at his prime. The comedy earned a mild $45 million domestically ($83 million worldwide.) Wilson later reprised his role as Lightning McQueen in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2, which grossed $191 million. The animated sequel earned far less than its predecessor’s $244 million, being Pixar’s lowest-grossing film in years, with many reviews labeling it as the studio’s worst project.

The crowning achievement in Wilson’s year was headlining Woody Allen’s ensemble comedy Midnight in Paris. The film reunited Wilson with his Wedding Crashers love interest Rachel McAdams, playing a troubled screenwriter whose relationship begins suffering after his late nights in the city. Wilson earned terrific reviews and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy, while the film had strong legs at the box office earning $56 million. Midnight in Paris became the highest grossing film of Allen’s 30+ year career, and is expected to earn several Oscar nominations, possibly including Best Picture. Wilson followed with October’s flop The Big Year, co-starring with fellow Frat Pack member Jack Black and comedy icon Steve Martin. Wilson, who welcomed the birth of his first son Robert Ford Wilson in January, currently has no projects lined up for 2012 besides voiceover work in the animated film Turkeys, costarring with his longtime friend Woody Harrelson.

Having already run through the list of usual suspects, we have a shocking winner this year.

The Frat Pack Man of the Year for 2011 is…

Jason Bateman

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis

A supporting player since the Frat Pack glory days of 2004 (dating back to appearances in Starsky & Hutch and Dodgeball), Bateman became a major comedy player in 2011. He began his year playing an FBI agent in the underrated all-star comedy Paul. Through his web-based video production company DumbDumb (which he co-runs with Will Arnett), he produced a series online web promotions for Dennys starring his Paul costar David Koechner interviewing/improvising with stars such as Bateman, Arnett, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman and Will Forte. In August, the company announced a partnership with Activision, in which they will produce content to be integrated into Modern Warfare 3 gaming sessions.

More than any other star this year, Bateman headlined two major studio R-Rated comedies, with Entertainment Weekly dubbing it “The Summer of Bateman.” He played the straight-man in the July comedy blockbuster Horrible Bosses (the Luke Wilson if compared to Old School’s trio or the Ed Helms if compared to The Hangover.) Holding his own next to wacky costars Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, Bateman’s trademark charisma made him a likable protagonist, when paired against the film’s nastiest villain played by Kevin Spacey. Riding this summer’s box office comedy train, Horrible Bosses, from Four Christmases director Seth Gordon, went on to gross $117 million domestically, totaling $209 million earned worldwide.

Jason Bateman on EW Cover

Jason Bateman on EW Cover

A month later, Bateman would go on to co-headline Universal Pictures’ The Change-Up with Ryan Reynolds and Leslie Mann. By that point in August, audiences had grown fatigued of comedies (also evident with the poor performance of 30 Minutes or Less two weeks later), and the film was met with middling box office ($31 million domestically, $71.8 million worldwide compared to it $52 million production budget) and mostly negative reviews chiding its tired body-switching premise. The film itself did continue to showcase Bateman’s screen potential, establishing himself as one of comedy’s best manic worriers, making the best of a role Ben Stiller would have played years ago.

Bateman finished the year with overwhelming positive buzz for the announcement that Arrested Development, the series that revitalized his career in 2003, would be returning for 10 new episodes (being streamed through Netflix) serving as the precursor for its big screen film reunion, which the entire principal cast (including Michael Cera, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross) will all return for. The announcement came during a Q&A reunion session with the entire cast and series creator Mitchell Hurwitz. Bateman later confirmed the news via twitter, “It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ‘13. VERY excited!”

The cast of Arrested Development at the New Yorker's Reunion Event

The cast of Arrested Development at the New Yorker's Reunion Event

In addition to the Arrested Development reunion, Bateman has several projects lined up, including a comedy he’s producing called ID Theft, which he is having the film’s other lead rewritten for Bridesmaids breakout Melissa McCarthy. Bateman may also be co-starring in The Insane Laws, with his frequent costar Vince Vaughn, which could possibly be their 5th film together. Jason Bateman will next be seen in 2012’s ensemble dramedy The Longest Week. Though not an actual member of the Frat Pack, Bateman’s close associations over the years have made him a constant fixture on this site, in addition to past co-starring roles in comedies alongside leading ladies like Leslie Mann and Jennifer Aniston (including last year’s highly underrated The Switch.) In a year where key Frat Pack members were either disappointing at the box office, or trying their hand at dramatic material, Bateman emerged successful doing what matters most: making us laugh.

Congratulations to our 2011 Man of the Year! It’s been a long road leading up to this moment.

David Koechner and Jason Bateman

David Koechner and Jason Bateman


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