Ben Stiller is one prolific actor/comedian/writer/director/producer. He's so prolific, in fact, that as I was compiling his top and bottom five performances list, obviously meant to coincide with the release of his Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, there was just so much to choose from there was no room for the film's predecessor, Night at the Museum, to get anywhere near either of these lists (for the record, it would've made the cut if this was a "top ten" list). Anyway, here's what did make the cut.
Stiller is known for zany antics, and director Wes Anderson is known for making strange films. But their collaboration resulted in Stiller's most refreshingly restrained performance.
A true modern comedy classic, this Farrelly brothers mega-hit turned both Stiller and Cameron Diaz into stars, and led to his equally hilarious performance hosting the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. (Side note: Has anyone even attempted to pronounce Brett Favre's name correctly since this movie came out?)
Stiller directed and co-starred in this generation-defining rom-com as a yuppie TV exec battling scruffy slacker Ethan Hawke for the love of pixie-ish Winona Ryder. The movie still holds up a loving tribute to that decade when we all wore too much flannel.
4. Tropic Thunder
Stiller's most recent directorial effort (he also played washed-up action star Tugg Speedman) worked well as both a raucous action comedy and a scathing Hollywood satire. It even led to a surprise Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Robert Downey Jr., which Stiller, as the director, should also get to take some pride in.
It may be one of the silliest movies of the decade, but I dare you not to laugh the next time you come across Zoolander playing on your favorite basic cable channel. And considering the fact that "Blue Steel" has yet to leave the public consciousness, I'd say that the recently announced sequel may not be an entirely bad idea.
1. The Heartbreak Kid
Stiller's remake of the 1972 comedy was nothing more than an unfunny flop that nearly killed his career.
2. Meet the Fockers
Despite its done-to-death premise (guy gets bullied around by his girlfriend's intimidating father), Meet the Parents was one of Stiller's biggest hits. But the unnecessary sequel was twice as zany and only half as funny, despite the additions of Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand to the cast.
3. Along Came Polly
The most interesting question this movie raised was how much of the script were Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, and Philip Seymour Hoffman given before they agreed to sign on for it? I want to believe they all would've passed had they known in advance its "big comedy moment" occurred on a toilet.
4. Keeping the Faith
This film failed due to its weird premise -- a rabbi and a priest who are best friends both fall for the same woman. It was supposed to be a romantic comedy, but audiences were too creeped out to find it either romantic or funny.
5. Mystery Men
Hollywood has never produced a successful superhero comedy. Poor Ben Stiller has the distinction of leading the most talented cast to failure with his attempt at the genre.