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Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy--about an all-male news team whose close-knit camaraderie is infiltrated by a gasp! woman--could easily turn into one of those quotable cult comedies that grows on you the more you watch it. If only it wouldn't try so damn hard to be funny some of the time.


Set in the 1970s male-dominated news world, the dashing, mustached Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is indeed a legend as San Diego's top-rated anchorman. He and his news team--including field reporter and all-around ladies man Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sports cowboy Champ Kind (David Koechner) and mindless weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell)--live life large as local television icons, boozing and womanizing with the best of them. As Ron puts it, they have been coming to the ''same party for 12 years--and in no way is that depressing.'' But their world is about to turn upside down when an ambitious newswoman, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is hired by the managing news producer (Fred Willard) to spice things up. The guys aren't worried at first, treating her like any other woman, that is to say, sexually harassing her--and, despite that, Veronica and Ron hit it off. But soon Ms. Corningstone's true agenda is revealed--she wants to land an anchor spot, and she isn't about the let anything stand in her way, including a perfectly coiffed, slightly hairy, idiot newsman named Ron Burgundy. Of course, this means war.


No longer is Ferrell just a side character, illuminating the proceedings with his hilarity. Along with pals Jack Black, Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller (who make strategic cameos in Anchorman--but we aren't telling how 'cause that'll ruin the fun), the former Saturday Night Live alum has become one of the new kings of cinematic comedy. People expect Ferrell to be gut-bustin' funny now, and luckily, he delivers once again as Ron Burgundy. With a voice that ''could make a wolverine purr,'' Burgundy is all hot air, great hair and polyester debonair, a dim bulb who tries to understand the news stories he recites but gives up quickly because it requires too much thought, and simply reads the teleprompter exactly as it is written. Ferrell is at his best when he is allowed to free-associate, either by himself (while getting ready to go on the air) or with his co-stars, Rudd, Koechner and Carell, (singing a strangely harmonious rendition of ''Afternoon Delight''). Keep your eyes on Carell--he is a comic gem on the rise. The Daily Show co-star had a brief but memorable turn in last year's Bruce Almighty, as an anchorman (ironic, huh?) Jim Carrey messes with, but in Anchorman, Carell is absolutely side-splitting as Brick, who doesn't have a single brain cell working, rattling off non sequiturs like, ''I ate an entire red candle,'' when talking about a party the night before. Christina Applegate, subjected to this lunacy, holds her own, god bless her, and does an admirable job playing the straight woman to this group of wackos.


Adam McKay, former SNL head writer, makes his directorial and screenwriting debut with Anchorman. The story has a fairly classic and simplistic framework--Burgundy starts out on top, falls to rock bottom and climbs his way back up again--but it's pretty evident early on that with the likes of Ferrell and the rest, all McKay has to do is turn the camera on them and let it all happen. Watching Burgundy, incoherent, breaking down in a phone booth after his dog is supposedly booted off a bridge by an irate motorcyclist or the news team rumble, where San Diego news rivals go at each other with nasty weapons, it's funny stuff. But rather than just let the comedy come from the story á la Old School, Anchorman throws in some antics that probably sounded comical on paper but end up being silly and forced. For example, Veronica and Ron going to ''pleasure town,'' (sexual bliss) with animated furry animals and rainbows instead of seeing the love act itself or the gang trying to get out of a bear pit after they've woken up the hibernating animals, that's a little over the top. At least, Anchorman never goes for the toilet humor--nope, you won't find a vomit, urine, semen or poop joke in this film. You will, however, find gratuitous shots of Ferrell's hairy chest. Shiver.

Bottom Line

Even though it feels the need to lapse into juvenile clowning around every once in awhile, Anchorman is still gonna make you laugh--hard.