The Real Reason Adam McKay Moved Away From Comedies

If you grew up in the early 2000s, chances are you can quote an Adam McKay film. The director rose to fame in the aughts for his collaborative movies with comedian Will Ferrell, including "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Stepbrothers" and "The Other Guys." 

McKay found significant success with these comedies, which he and Ferrell produced under their joint venture Gary Sanchez Productions (via Variety). However, entering the 2010s, McKay began to pivot away from these frat-boy-esque stories, instead taking on more serious projects. This included writing and directing "The Big Short," a fictionalized retelling of the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, which earned McKay the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay — his first Academy Award (per IMDb). McKay continued on to another biographical drama, "Vice," which follows former Vice President Dick Cheney as he rose to political power. 

It's quite a pivot from telling the story of Ron Burgundy to Dick Cheney. Now, McKay has opened up about why he's moved away from the kind of comedies that gave him his big break, to telling more grounded stories.

McKay realized the world had changed

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Adam McKay revealed that his decision to move away from comedies was in response to the change of culture. "I started realizing the world was shifting away from the golden age of comedy we had from the late 1990s through the 2000s," he said. "The themes of those comedies were about sort of empty-suit white guys...But then you started to see the ravages of that culture, and it wasn't so funny anymore." In particular, he pointed to the 2008 financial crisis, the threat of climate change, and the rise of right-wing extremism, calling these changes "big, powerful tectonic stuff." McKay elaborated, "It almost became bizarre to do those old-style comedies and didn't make sense at that point."

The world has changed a lot since "Anchorman" first debuted in 2004, and McKay has begun to use his work to draw attention to important sociopolitical issues. His next film "Don't Look Up" certainly fits that bill. It follows two scientists who are desperately trying to warn the world about an approaching Earth-destroying comet, but no one will take them seriously. "Don't Look Up," as THR puts it, is a movie "about the failure of a social media-obsessed society to recognize real problems, like climate change."

We'll always love McKay's early work, but as the world's changed, our taste in comedy has, too. We're certainly looking forward to seeing "Don't Look Up" when it drops on Netflix on Christmas Eve.