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Where there’s a Will, there’s a payday

You can fit Ferrell’s goofy on-screen persona into almost any high concept. By Jason Katzman
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Rumor has it that Will Ferrell’s “Talladega Nights” was approved for production without a script. The 30-second pitch might have gone something like Buck Henry pitching “The Graduate 2” at the beginning of “The Player”:

“Will plays a dumb-as-a-stump race car driver named Ricky Bobby.”

Factor Ferrell’s genial goofiness into any cinematic equation and there suddenly seems like a lot of potential roles out there. It doesn't hurt that he has a virtual money-back guarantee. Think of pitches for his previous films: Ferrell plays one of Santa’s elves. Ferrell plays a chauvinistic ’70s news anchor. Ferrell plays an out-of-control kids’ soccer coach.

It’s a simple formula: give Ferrell a role that has ample opportunity for outlandishness coupled with sincerity and you have a winner.

With that in mind, here are some ideas:

Pitch: Ferrell plays a female cheerleaderTitle: “Sizzle”Plot: Living an unfulfilled life as a fast food restaurant manager in Colorado Springs, 40-year-old Dicky Sims (Ferrell) decides to live out his dream. Faster than you can say “Give me an F,” he’s dressing up like an 18-year-old girl and trying out for the local high-school cheerleading squad. Dicky actually makes the team before being outed by a jealous rival and her nosey mother.

Pitch: Ferrell plays the President of the United StatesTitle: “Bobby Bob for President” Plot: Through machinations far and wide, the Republican Party lands their puppet in the White House. His name is Bobby Bob Wannaker (Ferrell). Though the Republican elite try to tell him what to do, things quickly go awry when the affable Bobby decides he's nobody's fool. Bobby Bob has ideas of his own about how to be President including “Bowling for Constitutional Amendments” and filling the Supreme Court with members of his model train club. The Executive Branch will never be the same!

Pitch: Ferrell plays a rapper Title: “Notorious Dave”Plot: Having won a local poetry contest and impressing the county’s only African-American resident (Bill Cosby), Dave Duty (Ferrell) decides to move to Compton to make it big as a rapper.

Pitch: Ferrell plays a blind hunterTitle: “Aim High”Plot:  James “Skeeter” Reese (Ferrell) lives alone on his ranch in rural Nebraska. Though blind, Skeeter cares for himself and is renowned in his hometown for once shooting down a quail by tracking the flapping of its wings. When the head of the NRA (Willem Dafoe) hears about the story, he invites Reese to attend the National Convention in Washington D.C. and the poor, blind, country farmer makes his first trip to the big city with unusual results.

Pitch: Ferrell plays the GodfatherTitle: “Mafia Ties”Plot: When an extensive FBI crackdown results in the conviction of every major player in the Bendonetti crime family, their consigliere (Steve Carell) must search far and wide for a relation to take over the business. He discovers Steve Nichols (Ferrell), a dentist and family man living in San Bernadino, and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

Pitch: Ferrell plays a German Olympic ice skaterTitle: “Ice Cold Lederhossen”Plot: Slandovia becomes the newest country in the world after a small, reclusive political group in the Alps secedes from Germany. Now, the responsibilities of being their own country are raining down on them and the newly elected and overwhelmed President (Rutger Hauer) sends former athlete Otto Murshgang (Ferrell) to the Olympics to represent Slandovia. The only problem: Otto's last experience skating was 20-years ago when he dropped and killed his partner in the little town’s most notorious accident. Little does Otto know, Elsa (Jenna Elfman) is still alive and skating with his chief rival, Gunther Cruise (Ben Stiller). Otto must win gold and Elsa's heart.

Pitch: Ferrell plays a Canadian MountieTitle: “Yukon Monty”Plot: There's not a lot of crime in the Yukon. Hell, there just aren't a lot of people. However, that doesn't stop Monty Pierce (Ferrell) from keeping the peace — everything from breaking up the occasional intense bar discussion to removing unwanted moose droppings from the public roads. However, when a gang of international terrorists takes up residence near Monty's hometown, he must swing into action despite his overwhelming lack of experience.

Pitch: Ferrell does seriousTitle: “Teddy”Plot: A biopic of the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, perhaps focusing on his early days and involvement with the Rough Riders. Such a role would fit into a tradition among comedians too. Bill Murray played serious in “The Razor's Edge.” Steve Martin did it in “Shopgirl” and “The Spanish Prisoner.”

Pitch: Ferrell plays a former school bully who gets tricked into participating in Ultimate Fighting.Title: “The Bully” Plot: As a kid, Tank Cartwright (Ferrell) was the meanest kid on the playground, threatening everyone in his sight. A particular target of his cruelty was little Gerald Boner (David Spade). Now all grown up, Boner wants revenge and as a promoter of The Ultimate Fighting Championships, Gerald easily convinces a conceited Tank that he can compete and win. However, after Tank is nearly killed in the ring, Gerald realizes that all those years of bullying were just a cover for a lot of pain and a difficult home life. Gerald must help Tank train to win back his self-respect and possibly a fight against the most menacing UFC opponent ever.

Pitch: Ferrell is abducted by aliens. Title: “Little Green Men”Plot: As a clerk in a gift shop in Roswell, New Mexico, Larry English (Ferrell) may not be climbing any corporate ladders, but he sure knows how to sell novelty items by creating elaborate stories for his customers. Unfortunately, none of Roswell's other business people take alien invasion quite so seriously and they regard Larry as an eccentric at best. So when a group of curious aliens abducts Larry after listening in on a particularly accurate tall tale of a coming galactic war, Larry becomes an ambassador for the entire planet.

Jason Katzman is co-creator and writer for Shadowculture's Mr. Cranky.