Humor is not easy, making somebody laugh can be one of the hardest things out there. Steve Carell does it with incredible ease thanks to his is truly straight-face delivery of jokes. More than that, he doesn’t have an athletic build or a chiseled jaw, actually he looks pretty far from the Hollywood standard, so in many ways he is a lot more relatable then most starts out there.
This past weekend he was in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone starring alongside Jim Carrey, which had one of the lowest grossing openings of his career. I thought here’s an opportunity to look at Carell’s top 10 highest grossing films in North America, adjusted for inflation (unadjusted in parentheses).
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) $85.5 million ($84.3M) – A sweet romantic comedy with some drama in there for good measure, not as crazy as the title would suggest, but definitely enjoyable thanks to the brilliant cast. Besides Steve Carell we also got Jullianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, so you can see how they could easily elevate what would otherwise be an average film any day.
9. Date Night (2010) $99.9 million ($98.7M) – The great pairing of Tina Fey and Steve Carell is what makes this film work. You take a story that we’ve seen before, way too many times actually, but thanks to the perfect comedic timing and chemistry between the two leads, there’s surprisingly a lot of fun to be had while watching Date Night.
8. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) $110.5 million ($85.2M) – This one is an acquired taste for sure, and by that I mean you’re not gonna like Anchorman unless the very specific Will Farrell type of humor works in your case. If indeed you are part of this group, then by all means Anchorman is the movie for you. With some sort of weird pride, I confess to be part of said group too. Oh, and there’s a sequel coming this year, awesomesauce.
7. Evan Almighty (2007) $117.5 million ($100,4M) – What an utterly pointless sequel this was. I really wonder what were they thinking, spending more than twice as much and grossing less than half of what Bruce Almighty did 4 years prior. Actually I think I know what went through the brilliant minds at Universal. “So there’s no secret that Jim Carrey doesn’t do sequels, but we have this one film that made so much money and we really want to make another one, so who do we get from the original cast? Hmm, you know that one guy that played the news anchor, Steve what’s-his-name, he became quite the popular individual after The 40-Year-Old Virgin was such a hit. We need that guy, get that guy! Yes, we can work with that, I can work with that.” So they got pour Steve Carell and everything else is history.
6. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) $137.4 million ($109.4M) – Yes, he might have been popular before with a lot of folks thanks to The Office, Saturday Night Live and some other supporting roles, but this part right here planted Steve Carell in the collective consciousness of the many for good. He was finally the leading man. But then again, this is probably what got him into Evan Almighty in the first place. Eh, whatever, I still liked the movie.
5. Get Smart (2008) $146.1 million ($130.3M) – Based on a popular TV show that was more than four decades old, there was a lot that could have gone wrong here. I mean, if Get Smart wouldn’t have worked, after the fiasco that was Evan Almighty the previous year, it would probably be back to supporting roles for Mr. Carell. Thank goodness Get Smart turned out so well. Now where is that sequel?
4. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hearts a Who! (2008) $173.2 million ($154.5M) – Maybe it’s just me but I find that the works of Dr. Seuss translate a lot better in animated form. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Grinch (be kind, please) and I haven’t seen that other live-action film, but Horton Hears a Who was among my favorite animated films of 2008.
3. Over the Hedge (2006) $190.5 million ($155M) – Steve Carell voices a squirrel in this second animation on the list. If that’s not enough to be sold on this film then I don’t know what is. I repeat, Steve Carell voices a hyperactive squirrel “whose mouth moves as fast as his feet”, now go watch this, off you go (after you finish reading, obviously).
2. Despicable Me (2010) $262.3 million ($251.5M) – Man, Steve Carell has some hit animations under his belt. For all intents and purposes, Despicable Me is his Shrek and with Despicable Me 2 (I really hope they play on that title) right around the corner, don’t be surprised if this becomes as popular as the DreamWorks animation once was. Maybe $900 million worldwide would be stretching it for the sequel, but after The Lorax, I am confident that Chris Meledandri and his team at Illumination Entertainment won’t disappoint.
1. Bruce Almighty (2003) $324.1 million ($242.8M) – Hm, Steve Carell’s #1 movie (adjusted for inflation and in North America only) is a Jim Carrey flick, awkward. But jokes aside, the two have been working together for years, between this, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! and the recently released The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, they’ve done a great job so far. So what would happen if you had the power of God for a week, that’s the question that Bruce Almighty hilariously explores. I know it’s not a great piece of filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination, but I like it nonetheless, which makes me all the more furious about Evan Almighty.
So what other Steve Carell films are missing from this list just because they were not popular enough? Well obviously Little Miss Sunshine was a blast and I vaguely remember enjoying Dan in Real Life. Other than that, I hope to see The Incredible Burt Wonderstone soon although I’m probably in the minority there since the film pretty much bombed at the box office over the weekend.