Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
It's Anchorman. Not Anchorbaby. Get It Right!
How in the world do you review a film like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy? The film is meant to be as ridiculous as possible with outrageous performances and a paper thin storyline; half of its charm is its overuse of improvisation. You either found its absurd nature hilarious and consider it one of the funniest films ever (and completely ignore the horrid sequel) or hate it for being a nonsensical comedy filled with a cast of immature people who can’t hold a straight face for a single take. It’s honestly difficult to argue either perspective, but the 20-year-old version of this critic who saw this film and adored it would drop dead if he found out that it doesn’t hold up as well nearly 15 years later.
It’s 1974 and on the local San Diego news station KVWN channel 4 newscaster Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is king since channel 4 is always number one in the ratings. His news team consists of sports newscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), investigative news reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). Up until this point, only men were allowed to read the news but a new female co-anchor named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is hired by channel 4 and has bigger plans. Veronica is ambitious, has a ton of experience, and envisions herself as one day becoming a lead network anchor. Tensions rise and feuds flare up, but times are changing and it’s something everyone, including Ron Burgundy, is going to have to deal with.
Anchorman is a tricky comedy because it throws all of its success into this random formula. There is a plot, but it takes a backseat to the memorable and hysterical one-liners from the film. These one-liners are phrases that you’ll be saying for years to come as a few will likely become household favorites if you or your family has any sort of taste whatsoever. With the absolute blessing of owning so many cats, a common phrase from Anchorman that gets repeated around here on a regular basis is, “You will eat that cat poop!”
With a comedy this spontaneous, it’s difficult to comment on aspects such as the story since it shouldn’t be taken as seriously as a film where the story actually matters. Anchorman isn’t trying to win any awards. This is a film that is only trying to make its audience laugh and if it does that then it has to be successful in some sort of capacity. The cast absolutely embodies these characters to a fairly flawless extent. Being so absorbed in these roles makes the absurdity more believable and slightly easier to swallow.
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Before Will Ferrell became unbearable, the holy trinity of Will Ferrell comedies were Step Brothers, Anchorman, and Talladega Nights; in that order (unless his cameo in Wedding Crashers counts). This was the early and late 2000s before Farrell’s on-screen antics had grown stale. Most of Farrell’s films follow the same generic formula; a nonexistent plot followed by a series of aimless one-liners and spitfire jokes that come out of nowhere. Ferrell’s career is well past the redundant stage as his more serious roles show more promise these days than his exasperating comedies. That formula was still working with Anchorman and it seems to have worked for many others who saw it as the film garnered a cult status over time.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy isn’t going to be for everyone and it’s totally understandable if you or someone you know downright hates the film. It is absolutely moronic in its execution, but for those who love it that is why it’s as funny as it is. There isn’t a riveting story, impressive character development, or a steady buildup towards anything worthwhile (unless Jack Black drop-kicking a fake dog off of an overpass counts as a proper climax). Anchorman has the attention span of a Family Guy cutaway gag. If you enjoy Family Guy, then Anchorman is probably one of your favorite movies.
This is like getting together with a bunch of friends and laughing at stupid stuff because you’re loaded on sugar, but Anchorman stretches out that feeling for an hour and a half; it’s a 90-minute sugar rush with no breaks. It’s like snorting Pixie Stix and laughing like an idiot for an hour straight or chugging a two-liter Coke and inhaling seven packets of Pop Rocks and laughing at your stomach not exploding. You don’t watch Anchorman to ponder your life choices or be amazed at technical achievements in filmmaking. This is a paper thin comedy that only wants to make you laugh and forget about how hard it is to make adult decisions in the overly intimidating modern world for a short hour and a half time period. If Anchorman can accomplish all of that and you quote it like a giggling idiot, then the two of us have something in common and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy should be considered as a masterwork in hilarious idiocy.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is currently available to rent via Amazon Video, Youtube, Vudu, and Google Play for $2.99 and through iTunes for $3.99. The Unrated DVD is available as an add-on item through Amazon for $3.99, multi-format Blu-ray for $6.98, and the unrated Rich Mahogany Blu-ray for $5.99. It’s also available on DVD ($2.45) and Blu-ray ($3.65) through eBay with free shipping.
© 2018 Chris Sawin