Not a member? Sign up now
Ferrell is no exception to the comedians-trying-their-hand-at-drama career move, though his few more dramatic films are really best classified as dramedies, which is probably for the best. Ferrell's ability to combine wacky outbursts with every-guy normalcy is best used for yuks; he would never fit in something as grim as We Need to Talk About Kevin. In fact, two of the films from this side of his resume explicitly deal with the question of life as comedy or tragedy. Needless to say, in both Melinda and Melinda and Stranger Than Fiction, Ferrell brings much of the former. His work as a down-on-his-luck sad sack in in Everything Must Go, however, is a different matter. This film remains the closest Farrell has come to portraying a truly believable human character on screen — the kind of guy who can be funny, sure, but is still an all-too-fallible mess.
Like Ferrell, Galifianakis seems pretty comfortable sticking to comedy, or at least the comedy-adjacent. His best known dramatic role is that of psych-ward resident Bobby in the teenage love story/suicide tale It's Kind of a Funny Story. And much like his competitor in Everything Must Go, Galifianakis turns the volume way down to play a man who is deeply sad inside, even if he's still engaging and amusing at times. The movie wasn't exactly a hit, but in general critics were fond of what Galifianakis could do when he wasn't being deliberately weird. (Please note, this is one of his few characters who actually has a certifiable mental condition. Let that sink in for a moment.)
Some of his other dramatic moments feel a bit like cheats: sure, it's sad to see office drone Steve get fired in Up in the Air — and it's impressive that Galifianakis seems on the verge of tears for just a slight, well-played moment — but that scene is also intercut with a quickly-cut montage of Steve doing ca-razy things after getting fired. We will give proper due to his turn as a rough-hewn grain elevator operator in Into the Wild, though, if only because he was momentarily unrecognizable, despite the fact that the man is never truly clean-shaven.