Questioning Chris Pine’s potential star wattage in a post last week reminded me of my prediction for Zach Galifianakis to ascend through the ranks, perhaps ala Danny McBride after his turn in The Hangover. After going toe-to-toe with Land of the Lost and Up this weekend, The Hangover managed to take the number one spot. I believe Galifianakis is the driving force behind the film’s success. He’s the wild-card character. He’s the one who “might be a little off.” Indeed he is, but there’s something very genuine about him. He’s the outsider of the group and he dearly wants to be a part of it, even though he’s vastly different from the core set of guys. He may be dimwitted, but he’s likable. He has the distinctive facial hair growth of a golden-haired yak, carries a minuscule man-purse accentuating his rotund belly, takes a taser shot to the face and still manages to save the day with Rain Man-esque precision.
I’ve only seen Galifianakis in one other movie so far and it was for the upcoming Youth in Revolt. He plays a white-trash mother lover in it and has very little to him beyond that caricature. He definitely wasn’t a key role and ultimately didn’t leave me thinking anything much about him. In fact, he so inconsequential to the film I didn’t mention his name in the review. The Hangover might have been the perfect role for his talents, but I think he’ll become a more prominent figure in Hollywood films and eventually headline them. I’m feeling a sort of Ben Stiller level of dominance when all is said and done.
Like a lot of comedic performers, Galifianakis made his way through the ranks as a stand-up comedian. He’s been a part of the Comedians of Comedy tour alongside Patton Oswalt and created the hugely successful “Between Two Ferns” interview-style shorts for FunnyOrDie.com. All of this has slowly exposed him to the mainstream, but the success of The Hangover is what will propel him to the masses.
I mentioned Danny McBride earlier, because he’s essentially Hollywood’s comedic it-boy at the moment. He starred in an independent film (The Foot Fist Way), which happened to be loved by comedic giants Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow. He had a role in Andy Samberg’s Hot Rod and then went on to film small roles in increasingly larger movies: Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder and now Land of the Lost. He’s headlined a TV show, “Eastbound and Down,” and was just announced to star in a comic book movie, Hench. His star has gradually risen, whereas I think Galifianakis’ star will skyrocket.
Perhaps comparing Galifianakis’ potential stardom can be more easily attributed to a non-comedic actor by the name of Brad Pitt. I’m not suggesting he’ll ever be in Pitt’s world, even if he wanted to, but Pitt is someone who ultimately emerged with a strong supporting performance in a hit movie. He was J.D., the cowboy object of Geena Davis’ flirtations in Thelma & Louise in 1991. Instantly he was headlining films. Johnny Suede, Cool World and finally A River Runs Through It all were released within a year of Thelma & Louise. They might not have been huge, but he was the headlining persona and it didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch up and catch on.
Coming up for Galifianakis is a voice in the Gerbil movie, G-Force, a smaller film called Little Fish, Small Pond in which he appears to be at least the second-lead, a TV show with Ted Danson and Jason Schwartzman called “Bored to Death,” headlining a movie called Rogue’s Gallery, the aforementioned Youth in Revolt and finally the already greenlit The Hangover 2. I have no idea what the plot involves for the sequel, but I imagine Galifianakis will have an even larger role.
All of this stardom talk is complete speculation, obviously, but it’s fun to do. The bottom line is that the guy’s funny. That’s his calling card and that’s what people want to see more of. I thoroughly enjoyed him in The Hangover and I certainly want to see more of him and to see him succeed. Now that The Hangover has grossed almost $45 milllion in it’s opening weekend, the odds are that most of you have seen it and seen Galifianakis as the off-kilter Alan. So, what are your thoughts on the talk of potential stardom? How high do you think he can rise?