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July 2004

By Julian Roman


Distributor: Dreamworks
Director: Adam McKay
Producer: Judd Apatow
Screenplay: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
Cinematographer: Thomas E. Ackerman
Music: Alex Wurman
Cast: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Vince Vaughn



Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is basically a ninety-minute Saturday Night Live skit. It's very funny, hilarious, but not a worthy follow-up film for Will Ferrell. Last year's surprise Christmas hit, Elf, established Will Ferrell as a bonafide movie star. That was a great film. It had a good story, was very funny, and well acted. The problem with Anchorman is that it's totally brainless. It has a wire thin plot that loosely holds together the film's zany gags. I found myself laughing at the funny parts, but really bored by everything else. It's like an early Adam Sandler film, humorous, but incredibly stupid and poorly written.

The story, if you can call it that, takes place in the late 1970's in San Diego. Will Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, the lead anchor of channel four's nightly news. He and his news team cohorts, Paul Rudd, Steven Carnell, and David Koechner, enjoy an all-male, sexist lifestyle. They rule the studio with their skirt-chasing, boozing ways. Playtime comes to a halt when a new female reporter, Veronica Corningstone (the brutally hot Christina Applegate), starts working at the station. She and Ron fall in love, but her ambitions to be the nation's first anchorwoman soon has them at odds. Fearing their dominance has come to an end, Ron and his goofy buddies attempt to thwart Veronica's rising star.

The character portrayals save the film. Every actor has a unique character and they're all extremely funny. Also, everyone looks silly in their seventies get-up. They milk the most out of the costumes, better than any comedy I've seen in a long time. They engage in this bizarre, witless banter that had me rolling in my chair. Burgundy says stuff like, "By Zeus's beard" and "Love Tigress" that brought tears to me eyes. I'm not sure if that sort of humor works well on everybody, but it made the entire theater laugh hysterically. There are also a lot of celebrity cameos. Every actor, all famous ones, that Will Ferrell has worked with has a scene in this movie. They play the leaders of the rival news teams. There's a scene where they all fight, gang land style, that starts off funny, but descends into utter absurdity.

The film has a real ad hoc feel to it. It seemed like everything they were doing was completely improved. It looks very amateurish, like sketch comedy skits. There are outtakes shown at the end of the film that could have easily replaced similar scenes. I don't like paying money for a film that is so casually thrown together. It's quite funny, there's no denying that, but it fails as a movie. Apart from some expletives, this obviously belongs on television.

Audiences that like Will Ferrell's type of humor are going to enjoy this film. He has a signature style, well publicized by his stint on SNL, that's in full force here. The film will make loads of money. It's prime fodder for teens going to the movies. Adult and minority audiences will probably not get into it as much. Will Ferrell has a lot of talent and I think it's not really on display here. He's a gifted comedian with genuine cinematic appeal. He needs to do smarter material. Still, I laughed myself silly and would probably still be entertained by a second showing.