Zach Galifianakis is Hollywood's go-to bearded funnyman. Did he just sink his film career with his latest "Fern" propaganda?
The 47-year-old helped make “The Hangover” one of the biggest comedy franchises in recent memory. He similarly struck box office gold with “The Campaign,” which netted more than $86 million in 2012. His mismatched buddy comedy “Due Date” earned a cool $100 million two years prior.
Credit co-star Robert Downey, Jr. for some of “Due Date’s” appeal. Still, people don’t line up for comedies starring Mr. Iron Man.
Yet Galfianakis’ two most recent films are unabashed bombs.
The recent “Masterminds” earned a paltry $6 million during its opening frame. It’s since faded fast from the box office picture. His new comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” made even less cash – $5.6 million – over the weekend.
Both movies hit theaters after the actor’s highly publicized sketch featuring Galifianakis and Hillary Clinton. The video drew more than 30 million views in just one day, along with a gaggle of giggly press coverage.
The star’s “Between Two Ferns” video let Clinton show off her “funny” side while attempting to curry favor with the elusive Millennial demographic.
This wasn’t a happy comedy accident. Team Clinton sought out Galifianakis specifically to appear on his fictional talk show.
Doesn’t Clinton have more important issues on her plate? Actually, her advisers deserve a raise.
They clearly saw how Galifianakis performed a similar service to President Barack Obama two years ago. That “Ferns” sketch let the president promote ObamaCare. You know, the health care reform performing so badly both former President Bill Clinton and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recently trashed it.
That wasn’t Galifianakis’ only political stunt.
His comments about which politicians he wouldn’t have on his silly interview show may have done far more damage to his current box office clout. He announced during the press melee surrounding the new “Ferns” clip that he wouldn’t dare shoot a similar sketch with GOP candidate Donald Trump.
“He’s the kind of guy who likes attention — bad attention or good attention. So you’re dealing with a psychosis there that’s a little weird. I wouldn’t have somebody on that’s so mentally challenged. I feel like I’d be taking advantage of him. And you can print that.”
Trump Train passengers don’t take kindly to Trump bashing, be it from pundits or famous folks.
Politics isn’t the only reason both films tanked. Box office fortunes are complicated, and any number of factors can inhibit a film’s success. Timing. Stiff competition. Marketing.
To be fair, the “Joneses” trailer packs more laughs than a certain Ghost teaser.
To ignore the comedian’s political work in this context, though, is just plain silly.
Except that’s what Deadline.com just did.
The august online source broke down “Joneses'” very bad weekend. Did the reporter so much as bring up the “Ferns” video? What about Galifianakis’ Trump bashing during the height of the current presidential campaign?
Let’s hope the star’s agent doesn’t think the same way, for his career’s sake.
Or, perhaps Galifianakis doesn’t care. Fellow comic actor Jack Black says he doesn’t. This reporter asked Black recently if he worried his political stances could hurt his career. Black had just starred in a video supporting President Obama’s Iran deal.
His answer? A big, fat “no.”
Both Black and Galifianakis remain in-demand stars. Perhaps they’ll change their tune should that change in the coming years.