Will & Harper follows iconic funnyman Will Ferrell and his recently transitioned, longtime friend Harper Steele as the two take a cross-country road trip as a way to explore this new chapter in their friendship. Candid conversations are paired with pitstops through Harper’s pre-transition stomping grounds offering a poignant look at a friendship and an entire country facing change. I laughed, I cried, I learned so much about what it means to transition and what it means to be an ally. In short, bring the tissues and prepare to be changed.
Harper and Will met when the two worked on Saturday Night Live together. Harper was the one responsible for the iconic “OOPS! I crapped My Pants” sketch. The two kept in touch over the years and, in the middle of the pandemic, Harper finally came out to Will and her SNL Alumni via email. Will, however, reached out with an idea. What if the two took a road trip together to reacquaint themselves with each other? Director Josh Greenbaum and a camera crew tag along and the result is one of the most emotionally satisfying and insightful documentaries in years.
The road trip is presented travelogue style kicking off a stop in New York City to have face time with their SNL Alumni. After a quick hello with SNL Producer Lorne Michaels, Will and Harper have a big dinner with the likes of Tina Fey, Tim Medows, Colin Jost, and others. Of course, they are all immensely supportive and happy for Harper. The challenge is to marry Harper’s love of the local dive bar, NASCAR, and small-town Main Street with her true self. Would the America that she loves will love her back?
With each stop, we experience the strange apprehension that any trans person faces. Harper insists that they grab breakfast at a greasy spoon diner. The sweet waitress takes their order and misgenders Harper. After a quick correction, the waitress apologizes and moves on, placing the order. This is a nothing moment, but to observe it, to feel it, is eye-opening. Then there is the hair-raising moment when Harper insists on entering a small town bar alone to see how people react without Ferrell’s star power.
On the road, the two share insights and explore their personal experiences. Will is granted a license to ask all of the questions and to make awkward mistakes while Harper shares profound insights on her decision to live authentically. Some moments will make you laugh out loud and others will strike you with searing humanity and kindness that lead to tears.
The two make it to California at the end of the film, but not before learning so much about themselves, each other, and the country they call home. Josh Greenbaum crafts a road movie with brains and heart that will leave you uplifted and better for the journey. My only request is that we get another movie with these two in a few years to see what growth is. Will & Harper is hilarious, moving, and insightful. A brilliant film.
Will & Harper Review Score – 8/10