The news that Adam McKay will write and direct an adaptation of Michael Lewis' The Big Short, which essays the boom and bust of the housing bubble and the credit default swap market, might seem surprising on the surface. But really, this is exactly where McKay's career has been pointing since the release of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy in 2004.
McKay is probably best known as the writer and director of Will Ferrell's greatest, most improv-heavy comedy blockbusters; along with the Anchorman films, he's made Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys. If Ferrell isn't the lead of The Big Short, it'll be the first time that hasn't happened in McKay's career. But he's been weaving more and more obvious political subtext into his work, and The Big Short sounds like the logical continuation of that.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has been praised as high feminist satire. Talladega Nights is a brilliantly subversive treatise on the integration of advertisements in every level of American sports. The Other Guys was largely a goofy cop movie, but a cop movie about the looting of pension funds by rich conglomerates. A detailed description of Ponzi schemes income inequality in the United States played alongside the end credits.
McKay wrote the Big Short script, but Brad Pitt's Plan B studio is producing, and there's no mention of McKay and Ferrell's Gary Sanchez Productions. So he may be flying the Funny or Die coop for the first time. While his work with Ferrell has been remarkably consistent, Anchorman 2 was their most bloated work, and its satirical bent (about the lowest-common-denominator approach of 24-hour news) never quite gelled as a whole. So maybe playing in a new sandbox and adapting Lewis' work will be a refreshing change of pace for McKay.
"Michael Lewis has the amazing ability to take complex formulas and concepts and turn them into page turners," McKay said in a press release. "Plan B and I connected over that breathless quality the book has."