Cameos have become one of the staples of modern ensemble movies. It’s not like they need them to succeed. They don’t even need them for plot. But, hey, if you can get Bill Murray to pop up as himself in the middle of Zombieland, why not? When done well, cameos can be as transcendent as David Bowie in Zoolander, John Hurt in Spaceballs, or Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. When executed poorly, well, at its best, it gets quickly forgotten. At its worst, it’s Bruce Willis in Ocean’s Twelve.
The Will Ferrell and Adam McKay cabal was obviously going to have their fair share of cameos, and we decided to rank ‘em. Do us a favor and wait till you see the movie to read. Paparazzi photos from these very public sets and casting leaks have spoiled a lot of these, but still, part of the joy of the cameo is not knowing.
10. Kirsten Dunst
First off, props to you if you could even tell that this was Kirsten Dunst. She plays a barely visible goddess on the top of a building who blows a horn to signal the start of the newscaster fight. That bad camera angle made this the most disappointing of the cameos. She deserved better.
9. Sacha Baron Cohen
As a stuffy, prim BBC broadcaster, it’s not like Sacha Baron Cohen was exactly bad, he just lost out to some of the more showboaty surprises. When you have Baron Cohen around, it’s strange when he’s not doing something extremely weird.
8. Vince Vaughn
One of the few uncredited cameos, Vaughn’s Wes Mantooth pops up to save the day. He’s fine. It’s fine. Let’s move on.
7. Kanye West
Oh, Kanye. We wanted your turn as an MTV VJ to be better than it was. You outrank Vaughn and Baron Cohen because you showed up, and that’s awesome. It just turns out you’re not really an actor or a comedian. It’s OK. We still love you.
6. Liam Neeson
Neeson can still do more than growl and save kidnapped offspring! And he’s spot-on as the top man at the History Channel.
Drake literally gets one of the first lines in the movie as just a dude on the street, complimenting Veronica Corningstone’s ass. It’s short, sweet, random, and perfect.
4. Will Smith
Remember that lovely time before After Earth when we all loved Will Smith? Well, Ferrell and McKay do their best to remind us that he is still his charming old movie star self, especially in this completely silly turn as an early ’80s sports broadcaster.
3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
These two can do no wrong, especially when you pair them up as a couple of feisty entertainment news reporters.
2. Marion Cotillard and Jim Carrey
As the overly polite Canadian broadcasters (French and English-language), the unlikely comedic duo of Cotillard and Carrey have a tight, succinct exchange. The strangeness of the pairing — a man known more recently for his odd public antics than his comedy and a woman who generally plays graceful, maudlin characters — and their easy rapport almost make you wish that the fight sequence lasted just a bit longer so as to give them a few more chances to own the screen.
1. [TIE] The Ghost of Stonewall Jackson…er…John C. Reilly & Paula Pell
Not only does the ghost of Stonewall Jackson pop to fight alongside the History Channel folks, but even Ron Burgundy knows who he is and pauses to reflect on just how incredible it is that he’s there. Meanwhile, Paul Pell steals the show with a high-pitched shriek as Burgundy has his Ice Castles moment on the skating rink. They’re the kind of sublime moments that we count on Ferrell and McKay for.
Harrison Ford deserves a special mention for not phoning this in, but, like Kristen Wiig, Fred Willard and Greg Kinnear, we’re counting this as a role, not a cameo.
Anyway, what do you think, PopWatchers? Who had the best cameo? Did the battle scene live up to the joy of the first? Sound off in the comments!