Illustration: Adeline Pericart
It was Clubber Lang who first uttered the immortal words ‘I pity the fool’ when asked if he hated Rocky Balboa by an intrepid journalist seeking to hype up thier impending meeting in the ring. In honour of April we here at Film Ireland challenge Clubber Lang and propose to ‘praise the fool’.
Now bring on the jesters…
Brick Tamland in Anchorman
Just in case his supremely thick glasses and gormless expression weren’t strong enough indicators of his mental capacity, not to mention that his name is Brick, this is how he introduces himself to us: ‘I’m Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an I.Q. of 48 and am what some people call mentally retarded.’
And that’s it. From that point on, Brick owns Anchorman. In a film filled to the brim with buffoons, he raises empty head and slumped shoulders above all the rest. Whether detailing his exploits at a raging party the night before (‘I ate a big red candle’), professing his love for inanimate objects (‘I love lamp’), explaining his knowledge of women (‘I read somewhere their periods attract bears. Bears can smell the menstruation’), or getting involved in a heated debated (‘LOUD NOISES!’), every single line of dialogue Brick utters is a majestic symphony of idiocy.
The sign of a good fool is that they are unaware of their own foolishness. It’s hard to gauge Brick’s awareness of himself, or indeed his awareness of pretty much anything. In one scene alone, Brick and his co-workers all get lost following his lead, and inadvertently walk right into a massive brawl. Once the fight gets going, Brick whips a grenade out of nowhere. Before the fight is over, Brick has murdered someone with a trident. While not a whole lot of stuff in Anchorman makes a whole lot of sense, the movie’s most outré moments usually involve Brick. And because he is involved, we don’t give any of it a second thought; he seems to exist in a different reality to everyone else.
Despite acting the fool a lot since then in the likes of Get Smart, Dinner For Schmucks and most famously as Michael Scott in The Office U.S. , Steve Carrell has never reached the dizzy highs (or is that lows?) of stupidity that he did with Brick. More often than not, stupid people are annoying, but this stupid person is immensely likeable. Who else in the history of cinema, nay, THE WORLD, has been both a murderer and an advisor on the Bush Administration, and still managed to be loved by all??