Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

28 Feb

Anchorman The Legend of Ron Burgundy movie image Will Ferrell

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I can’t deny it—Will Ferrell is a very funny guy. Watching him run naked on a street in “Old School” or acting like a man-child in a tight elf suit in “Elf,” I can see that Will Ferrell is not afraid to take chances in making us laugh. He has a goofy, likable presence and proves he can carry a movie well with his gift. With “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” he brings his goofy charm to a new (maybe even unhealthy) level. He plays Ron Burgundy, a self-absorbed, legendary top news anchor residing in San Diego. His catchphrase: “You stay classy, San Diego.” He’s the main character in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” a vulgar, slapstick, satirical comedy that is very funny and is helped by Ferrell and the strong supporting cast. However, the laugh ratio is only half as funny as Ferrell’s previous films, but it’s still a pretty good ratio.

“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” takes place in the 70s, a time before cable and VCR—a time when everyone listened to the news, only men were allowed to anchor the news, and everyone was as classy as a clown on his day off, so to speak. While “This is Spinal Tap” was a satire about rock music, “Anchorman’s” satirical subject matter is broadcast television in the 70s. First, we get a narration by Bill Curtis, and then we see the typical TV intros to the “Channel 4 News Team,” in which Ron Burgundy and the three other team news members seem like one big happy family. There are also these silly news stories they have to cover, such as a waterskiing squirrel and a Panda Watch to make sure the news is able to capture on camera a panda giving birth.

The other news team members are Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), and Champ Kind (David Koechner). They get together with Ron to talk about vulgar subjects, swap manly stories, and, yes, even sing “Afternoon Delight” when they’re alone. They are all talk when it comes to women, while they are secretly terrified of them. And then they start to get cold feet when a striking blonde woman named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is hired by Ed, the station’s news manager (played by the always-reliable Fred Willard), to bring “diversity” to the station. They have a problem because she’s a WOMAN and only MEN are allowed to say the news. The dumbest of them, Brick, warns the others that, “women’s periods attract bears.” Ron and Veronica are attracted to each other, but as co-workers, they keep getting involved in many brawls.

This is a funny movie that almost comes close to being tedious when we see the ridiculousness of this news team one time too many. But they’re a likable and funny bunch. After all this, Ron does turn out to be a nice guy. And Veronica, while trying to keep her reputation as a serious anchor on the line, still loves this dim person.

It’s also funny for the obvious reason—the actor’s improvisations are funny. Every comic actor knows that they can come up with better lines of dialogue than most of what the script has to offer, and so they just go all out. And also, there are many scenes that are very funny and quite memorable. One features Brian as he tries to impress Veronica by wearing cologne that smells “worse than the time the raccoon got in the copier.” And then there’s the brawl in an alleyway involving every news team in San Diego, complete with cameos by actors I will not give away. You’ll know them when you see them, don’t worry. Oh, I should also mention that this brawl has a heavy amount of violence. Mostly, it’s played for laughs.

Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner make for some effective comedic foil, Christina Applegate is fantastic as the sort-of Cameron Diaz type of comedic female role, and Fred Willard, as if predictably, is invaluable. But it’s really Will Ferrell who scores big time here. He becomes this character and makes him into such a great comedic presence. He makes “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” his own movie.

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