Total Recall: Steve Carell's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Date Night star.

Steve Carell

The next time you feel like your career isn't going as smoothly as you'd like, or worry that your dreams may never come true, just remind yourself that, for quite awhile, the biggest credit on Steve Carell's résumé was a bit role in Curly Sue. Almost 20 years later, Carell's perseverance (and tons of talent) have paid off, making him a star of not only some of the last decade's top-grossing comedies, but one of TV's most critically beloved sitcoms. This week, Carell teams up with fellow rising comedy star -- and NBC alum -- Tina Fey for Date Night, and we decided to honor the occasion by taking a look at the critical highlights of his career so far. It's Total Recall time!


23%
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Rotten

10. Evan Almighty

After the enormous success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin made Carell a bankable leading man, Universal made the Bruce Almighty sequel a priority -- a major priority, in fact, to the tune of a record-breaking $200 million budget. This put Evan Almighty in a bit of a pinch when it came time to recoup, and the largely negative reviews didn't help; ultimately, despite a heavy marketing push from the studio and a storyline that included a bearded Carell building an ark, Evan was one of the year's bigger disappointments. Still, it wasn't all bad -- David N. Butterworth was one of the critics who enjoyed the sequel, pronouncing it "Better than Bruce by at least two turtle doves and a 40-year-old virgin."


48%
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Rotten

9. Bruce Almighty

Carell's gift for unctuous smarm was already known to fans of The Daily Show, but few of them could have suspected he was capable of walking off with the funniest scenes in a Jim Carrey movie. That's just what he did with Bruce Almighty, livening up the $484 million hit with his portrayal of Evan Baxter, the newsroom rival of Carrey's temporarily omnipotent Bruce. "Yep, this is the Carrey America loves," wrote Tom Long of the Detroit News. "Off-the-wall, over-the-top, elastic, spastic and fantastic." And when Carrey declined to revisit the character, it was Carell the producers turned to for the sequel.


51%
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Rotten

8. Get Smart

If anyone was going to step into Don Adams' shoe phones for a 21st century version of Get Smart, it had to be Steve Carell. Answering the question of what it would be like if The Office's Michael Scott bought a gun and became a bumbling action hero, Peter Segal's update on the 1960s TV series paired Carell with Anne Hathaway for a round of globetrotting comic espionage that included the talents of Alan Arkin, David Koechner, Bill Murray, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. While the 2008 edition of Get Smart might not have been a classic, it delivered what it was supposed to: Comedy, action, and a setup for a sequel. As Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News put it, "Instead of the show's wacky, slapstick tone, Get Smart presents itself as an action-filled spy movie that just happens to be really funny. And for the most part, it succeeds."


53%
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Rotten

7. Melinda and Melinda

Is life a comedy or a tragedy? That's the question asked by Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, which finds a pair of playwrights (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) using the character of Melinda (Radha Mitchell) to tell a comic (Shawn) or tragic (Pine) tale. Carell reunited with his Anchorman co-star Will Ferrell here -- both of them on the comedy side, naturally -- and although Melinda and Melinda didn't earn Anchorman-sized grosses, many critics felt it was one of Allen's better late-period efforts, including Ian Freer of Empire Magazine, who wrote, "It has great performances, snappy one-liners and a likeably tricksy structure, all wrapped up in an affirmative antidote to life's daunting complexities. Welcome back, Woody."


64%
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Fresh

6. Dan in Real Life

Though frequently called upon to play overbearing buffoons, Carell is equally adept with more complex characters -- like Dan Burns, the widowed parent whose emotional rebirth forms the heart of Dan in Real Life. Dotted with the sort of painfully awkward situations Carell's so good in, Dan also highlighted his dramatic gifts by giving him a character with difficult, and easily identifiable, challenges. The reviews suffered from critical exhaustion with indie dramedies about quirky families, but most writers were able to see past the surface similarities to other releases and recognize a warm-hearted film that managed to walk the line between sweet and saccharine -- not to mention a fine performance from its star. As Time's Richard Schickel put it in his review, "Now, everybody knows that Steve Carell is lovable."

Comments

anDy

Andreas Babs

Almost half his movies on this list are rotten.
Not the best resume, but then again being in The Office helps fix that.
-anDy

Apr 7 - 04:19 PM

Amardeep i.

amardeep lakra

User ratings for all movies are good except Evan Almighty.

Apr 8 - 11:26 AM

Fatsome Handso

Miodrag Ćakić

Well, user scores for George W. Bush 10 years ago were 70% and I wouldn't watch that movie again. Critic scores are relevant - it's their job.

Apr 9 - 03:48 AM

pattyfox

patty fox

And even Evan Almighty was only half rotten. I am a HUGE Steve Carell fan!

Apr 9 - 11:43 AM

Phatdude47

Michael Stanford

Only 1 movie is rotten... Evan Almighty

Apr 8 - 03:59 PM

Errol W.

Errol Walls

I'd have to agree. I'm not a big fan of his but I'm surprised he's not reviewed better%u2026at least in the US. A pretty rubbish list of films.

Apr 9 - 05:25 AM

Errol W.

Errol Walls

%u2026but Anchorman and LMS are excellent. Seen them both multiple times actually. And you know what%u2026I've never seen 40 year old Virgin%u2026and I will!

Apr 9 - 05:28 AM

Errol W.

Errol Walls

%u2026but Anchorman and LMS are excellent. Seen them both multiple times actually. And you know what%u2026I've never seen 40 year old Virgin%u2026and I will!

Apr 9 - 05:30 AM

Throw An Onion

Crornk Kaleidescope

I don't see the appeal of the Office anymore. It just hasn't been funny for the last several seasons. Am I the only one who thinks Parks and Recreation has surpassed The Office as the best documentary format show on television?

This concludes my comment which has absolutely nothing to do with films of any kind.

Apr 7 - 04:28 PM

amd9012

Aaron Dicken

parks and rec was probably the most retarded ten minutes of tv i've ever watched. yes the office has gone down the tubes since season two but parks and rec is just plain stupid.

Apr 7 - 05:02 PM

Throw An Onion

Crornk Kaleidescope

Have you watched season 2? Season 1 was painfully bad but season 2 is some of the best television I've seen in a while.

Apr 7 - 08:48 PM

Geoff C.

Geoff Cox

parks and rec is fantastic!

Apr 7 - 10:08 PM

AudioSuede

Christian Hagen

I'm going to agree on all counts. Still, my ranking of the Thursday night lineup currently is as follows: 1. Community 2. 30 Rock 3. Parks and Rec 4. The Offic.

I was disappointed that Dan In Real Life wasn't higher on this list. That was a really touching film.

Apr 9 - 08:57 AM

Gus S.

Gus Stevens

I totally agree with your ranking of nbc thursday nights. Community is amazing! It's my favorite show on tv right now! I think Dan In Real Life was really good too.

Apr 9 - 10:23 AM

warinari@hotmail.com

Ato P

I agree with your order of TV shows and 'Dan In Real Life'... it's a really good movie, and the soundtrack's excellent (Sondre Lerche did a great job!)

Apr 9 - 01:23 PM

Silver Screen Stalker

Matt Leyshon

Best documentary style comedy on tv right now is Modern Family. It is probably the funniest show on tv at the moment as well.

Apr 8 - 06:02 AM

pattyfox

patty fox

Yessssssssssss!

Apr 9 - 11:45 AM

Luke G.

Luke Gelineau

Agreed. Parks and Rec is funnier than The Office this season, but is really just hitting its stride in its second season much like The Office did. We'll see if Parks and Rec is still funnier in its 6th season.

Apr 8 - 03:20 PM

R M.

R Murray

You are wrong about THE OFFICE. PARKS & REC, while funnny, always feels like it's trying to copy the vibe of THE OFFICE, and can't seem to quite carve out its own identity.

Apr 8 - 03:40 PM

girly g.

girly girl

not a fan of parks and recreation, but i agree that the office has gone down hill in like the last two seasons
most of the first four are hysterical, though

Apr 8 - 04:12 PM

jordan b.

jordan barbosa

Agree...

Apr 8 - 07:24 PM

Roger D.

Roger Dodger

Yes, you are the only idiot who thinks this. Parks and Rec is Office-lite on its best day, and garbage on its worst.

Apr 8 - 07:52 PM

Over the Rising Sun

Simeon Deutsch

Comedians don't make good subjects for Total Recall. Steve Carell is awesome in the office, but not that great on the big screen.

Apr 7 - 04:38 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Agreed. It's almost impossible to write an objective review for a comedy. Bottom line is different people find different things funny.

Apr 7 - 05:39 PM

rook

First Last

The 40 Year Old Virgin only made 177 dollars?

Apr 7 - 05:02 PM

RT-Ryan

RT-Ryan .

Yes, precisely. Apparently, only 18 people saw it.

But seriously, thanks for pointing that out. It's been fixed, and the change should reflect in the copy shortly.

Apr 7 - 05:13 PM

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles

Its success rivaled that of "Zyzzyx Road"!

Apr 7 - 05:19 PM

rook

First Last

I was waiting for somebody to say it was one of those "creative accounting" things the studios use to avoid paying taxes. :-P

Apr 7 - 09:29 PM

amd9012

Aaron Dicken

parks and rec was probably the most retarded ten minutes of tv i've ever watched. yes the office has gone down the tubes since season two but parks and rec is just plain stupid.

Apr 7 - 05:02 PM

Throw An Onion

Crornk Kaleidescope

Have you watched season 2? Season 1 was painfully bad but season 2 is some of the best television I've seen in a while.

Apr 7 - 08:48 PM

Geoff C.

Geoff Cox

parks and rec is fantastic!

Apr 7 - 10:08 PM

AudioSuede

Christian Hagen

I'm going to agree on all counts. Still, my ranking of the Thursday night lineup currently is as follows: 1. Community 2. 30 Rock 3. Parks and Rec 4. The Offic.

I was disappointed that Dan In Real Life wasn't higher on this list. That was a really touching film.

Apr 9 - 08:57 AM

Gus S.

Gus Stevens

I totally agree with your ranking of nbc thursday nights. Community is amazing! It's my favorite show on tv right now! I think Dan In Real Life was really good too.

Apr 9 - 10:23 AM

warinari@hotmail.com

Ato P

I agree with your order of TV shows and 'Dan In Real Life'... it's a really good movie, and the soundtrack's excellent (Sondre Lerche did a great job!)

Apr 9 - 01:23 PM

RT-Ryan

RT-Ryan .

Yes, precisely. Apparently, only 18 people saw it.

But seriously, thanks for pointing that out. It's been fixed, and the change should reflect in the copy shortly.

Apr 7 - 05:13 PM

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles

Its success rivaled that of "Zyzzyx Road"!

Apr 7 - 05:19 PM

rook

First Last

I was waiting for somebody to say it was one of those "creative accounting" things the studios use to avoid paying taxes. :-P

Apr 7 - 09:29 PM

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles

Its success rivaled that of "Zyzzyx Road"!

Apr 7 - 05:19 PM

Earman

Christopher Beckham

23% tomatometer and it makes a top 10? Yikes!!! Carell is one of my favorite comedic actors today, but maybe RT should give a little more time to some of these careers before compiling a Total Recall. I know that they're only giving the facts, but come on! This list makes Carell seem worse than he is!

Apr 7 - 05:36 PM

Bear

Aaron Levine

Agree Entirely. Carrel is one of the funniest comedies lately but has only led in 4 live action films and was a lead voice in one. There's no need for a recall because everything he has been in that counts has only been in the last 6 years. A little disappointed that RT decided to recall a career that has just begun.

The Office is still the funniest show on Network TV and to all those haters who wrote things earlier you just have lost your sense of humor because Parks and Rec is terrible.

Apr 10 - 10:15 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Agreed. It's almost impossible to write an objective review for a comedy. Bottom line is different people find different things funny.

Apr 7 - 05:39 PM

rle4lunch

Chad W

Yeah, but 90% of these movies are good. Critics sometimes have to climb off their high horse and effing laugh once in a while.

Apr 7 - 05:54 PM

highdough

Richard Blascock

Apparently your standards are a little different than others. I certainly wouldn't say that 90% of these movies were good. Evan Almighty, Bruce Almighty and Get Smart were crap. Of the rest, only Little Miss Sunshine was better than okay, in my books. I have to say, I've never understood why 40 Year Old Virgin is so loved. I thought it was okay, although the last bit was hilarious.

Apr 7 - 10:24 PM

rle4lunch

Chad W

Yeah, my percentage was a bit off. I would say 50% were laughable, although Little Miss Sunshine was too blah for me. Just boring.

Apr 8 - 04:58 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

rle4lunch said: "Yeah, but 90% of these movies are good. Critics sometimes have to climb off their high horse and effing laugh once in a while."

This is today's "Quote of the Day". I trust the Tomatometer, *except* when it comes to comedies.

To all the critics who are too cool to find siht funny, I salute you!

*raises middle finger*

Apr 8 - 08:32 AM

rle4lunch

Chad W

lol. thanks CFM.

Apr 8 - 02:39 PM

Luxo Jr.

Luxo Jr.

Steve Carrel is one of my favourite actors, but why does Horton Hears a Who have to be on there? I hated that movie.

Apr 7 - 06:48 PM

Jpeffer

Jake Peffer

The only one on this list, that I've seen, that's altogether terrible is Evan Almighty. The rest like Bruce Almighty and Get Smart are pretty good. 40 Year Old Virgin is definitely his best.

Apr 7 - 07:08 PM

cachomp

manuel cacho-sousa

Although he might not have the best movies, one thing he can prove is that he is funny. They give him some bad scripts, but either way, i like him a lot. He's very refreshing comedian, and also can play some more mature characters, like in little miss sunshine or dan in real life.

Apr 7 - 07:10 PM

pacers3115

Brad Miller

Evan almighty is the only bad movie on this list (and get smart was just okay).

Apr 7 - 08:13 PM

DJB2328

Dylan Jeffrey

Steve Carell is very good at what he does, I love the office and he is also a good film actor as well. I bet the script of date night will be kind of lame but Carell playing in a lead role will probably get some good reviews.

Apr 7 - 08:16 PM

paroot b.

paroot boonthom

HA ha ha i saw that all movie yet i think it ok

Apr 7 - 08:36 PM

paroot b.

paroot boonthom

Steve Carrel is one of my favourite actors

Apr 7 - 08:37 PM

fotc

nicholas hernandez

Steve Carell is great, hes really funny and he's not basing any of it off of insults, cursing or anything else other cheap-joke comedians rely on for laughs. Dont get me wrong, i laugh and the cheap ones too but it deserves recognition that he has great charisma and timing. I think the office has gotten better.. the first few seasons did a great job of making you love pam yet want jim to take her off the market. but it proved it has more to offer than just laughs and angst by lasting so strong and so long as it has since.

Apr 7 - 08:38 PM

paroot b.

paroot boonthom

Steve Carrel is one of my favourite actors

Apr 7 - 08:39 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Love him in Anchorman.

For Get Smart, I always feel that the character he playing is Agent Michael Scarn.

Apr 7 - 08:48 PM

Poor_Frisco

Christian Estabrook

Wow I think that movie would be a lot better thinking of it as a screenplay by Michael Scott while watching it.

Apr 8 - 09:38 AM

girly g.

girly girl

agreed, but hey, whats wrong with that?

Apr 8 - 04:15 PM

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