Ben Stiller has had a long storied career, writing, starring, producing and directing in well over 50 films and being one of the recognizable comedians in Hollywood. Born in New York to legendary comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Ben was set to follow in his parents' footsteps. Not many people know this but Ben Stiller got his start by acting in a play! He wrote a couple of mockumentaries and then in 1990, his big break finally came, when MTV started airing...
... The Ben Stiller Show! Produced by Stiller and future Hollywood comedy king Judd Apatow (!) The Ben Stiller Show was a comedy sketch show featuring music videos, short skits and impersonations including the first appearances of Stiller's famous Tom Cruise ones which he would become known for over the course of his career.
Stiller's big breakout movie role would come in the 1998 comedy There's Something About Mary. The classic gross out romantic comedy by the Farrelly Brothers saw Stiller playing an awkward and shy 16 year old who embarrasses himself badly on prom night in front of his dream girl played by Cameron Diaz. 13 years later, he is still in love and obsessed over her. This isn't just one of Stiller's funniest movies, it's also considered one of the best gross out movies of all time. It also gave us the “hair gel gag”.
Although, over the past few years, people tend to characterize this particular franchise as being quite unfunny, especially in light of Little Fockers, but Meet The Parents, at the time of its release was a blast. Combining great situational humour in the form of Gaylord “Greg” Focker's different Jewish background from his girlfriend's white protestant Christian family with the relatable situation of meeting the other half's folks and ridiculous set ups, such as Robert De Niro's CIA dad character, the whole film's a laugh.
In 2001, Stiller's fondness for satire resurfaced once again, as Derek Zoolander, the dimwitted model in the movie Zoolander. It was banned on our shores until 2006. The film didn't do very well for its theatrical run due to a number of factors, including 9/11... but has become a cult classic. That is no doubt due to the mesmerizing powers of “Ferrari” and “Blue Steel”.
For a bit in the mid noughties, Stiller wandered around with some success in diverse films such as Wes Anderson's classic The Royal Tenenbaums, and also more commercial fare like Dodgeball and the Night At The Museum movies. During this period of time, Stiller made some notable cameos in the movies of fellow Frat Pack members. The term Frat Pack refers to a group of the top leading comedians in Hollywood who often work together in each other’s films. Its members include Stiller himself, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Carell. Two of my favourite cameos of Stiller in such films include the cameo as a Spanish newscaster in Will Ferrell vehicle, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and as a Guitar Center salesman in Jack Black's Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny.
However, in 2008, Stiller's penchant for mockery and satire returned as he wrote, directed and starred in Tropic Thunder. An outrageous comedy that's certainly also one of the most quotable ones in recent years, Tropic Thunder is a revealing movie that mocks everything about Hollywood; from the divas, the action heroes, the comedians, the method actors, the studio execs... like I said, everything. The result, a comedy that'll make you laugh so hard because so much is so true and an plenty of scenes that make you wonder if this is a top budget action movie.
No matter what, Ben Stiller will continue to stay relevant, astounding us once in a while, waiting with his keen eye for a current trend to catch his eye and then utilize his amazing ability to satirize anything he sees.
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