If you enjoy the comedic stylings of Will Ferrell, and the game of baseball, you’re going to enjoy HBO’s “Ferrell Takes the Field.” That’s incredibly obvious, perhaps, but it’s true. Even if you only like one of those things, it’s worth checking out.
The flim is a culmination of all the hype and excitement surrounding Ferrell’s adventure In March. The tweets, highlights and attention given to Ferrell that day were all leading to this film.
“Ferrell Takes the Field” debuts Saturday at 10 p.m. and follows Ferrell around as he plays all nine positions (and DH) during spring training. Ferrell didn’t just do the stunt for the heck of it, he used the opportunity to raise money for the Cancer for College charity.
One of the best things about the documentary is the focus on the charity. On the actual day Ferrell was out there, it seemed like the charity was almost secondary to the comedy. That’s not the case here. The beginning of the film shows Ferrell interacting with Cancer for College founder Craig Pollard.
Pollard was one of Ferrell’s fraternity brothers at USC, and played baseball until his career was cut short by a cancer diagnosis. The two talk about the charity, and Pollard tells Ferrell that it would have been his dream to be out on the field. It’s a touching moment, and gives viewers a sincere look at why this cause was important to Ferrell.
The film is a comedy, of course, and it doesn’t take long for Ferrell to ply his craft. The set up is similar to a documentary. You’ll see footage of Ferrell from that day, but it’s cut with a one-on-one interview where Ferrell talks about the events. These moments are usually asides where Ferrell can be humorous. He goes off an tangents about a number of things, including Walt Disney’s architectural plans for Disneyland.
The best parts of the film are probably Ferrell’s interactions with the managers, players and fans during the event. His time with the Oakland Athletics is a major highlight, as viewers get a chance to see how the players reacted to having Ferrell around. He also has some humorous interactions with pitcher Matt Buschmann and shortstop Marcus Semien.
Ferrell has to play for a number of teams throughout the day, leading to him getting “cut” or “released” numerous times during the film. They wisely only show a few of these instances, as seeing all nine would get repetitive.
That said, Ferrell’s interaction with Billy Beane is definitely the highlight of the documentary. Beane briefly becomes Ferrell’s worst enemy after dealing him to the Seattle Mariners. There are a lot of great jokes about “Moneyball,” and Ferrell even says Beane only cares about numbers, which draws some loud laughs from some of the Oakland players. (Side note: Make sure to watch all the way through the credits if you want to see another Beane moment.)
If you followed the event closely the day it happens, the film can drag at points. If you know what’s going to happen, it’s less exciting watching Ferrell as he moves to his third and fourth game. We covered the event exhaustively here, so perhaps that’s just my person experience seeping in.
Had I not known how Ferrell’s at-bat with the Chicago White Sox ended, or what happened when he took the mound with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I suspect I would have been more engaged toward the end of the film. If you didn’t follow that day as closely, or are watching with someone who wasn’t aware of the event in March, you’ll probably find it entertaining all the way through.
Overall, it’s a fun look back at Ferrell’s crazy day. Whether you followed along at the time, or are discovering Ferrell’s exploits for the first time, you should enjoy the film. Well, unless you’re Billy Beane.
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