|Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2004 - PG-13 - 91 Mins.
|Director: Adam McKay
|Producer: Judd Apathow
|Written By: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
|Starring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate
|Review by: Joe Rickey
A quirky satire not completely unlike the June comedy ‘Dodgeball’ or ‘Starsky and Hutch,’ Will Ferrell stars in ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.’ It's a comedy that garners its fair share of laughs from a diverse cast of characters and a constant air of goofiness, yet it can’t reach the heights of the aforementioned flicks because it lacks much in the way of a plot. It would barely hold muster as one of Ferrell’s skits back when he was a regular on ‘Saturday Night Live.’
I wonder who is smarter?
Channel 4 News in San Diego, California is headed by the one and only Ron Burgundy. He is joined by Champ Kind (David Koechner) with sports, Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) with weather, and reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd). The newsroom is a man’s world and these men rule the roost; consistently ranked number one in the ratings. This makes the simple-minded Burgundy a local legend; a man known and adored by all and he knows it. He constantly references how he is a beloved man. It is no secret then when upstanding journalist Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the news team that he is upset at no longer being the center of attention. Not that this stops him from trying to bed her, something he eventually succeeds at. This is also something that puts him in deep waters when he blabs to anyone and everyone about their relationship; in turn leading to other assorted predicaments.
Director Adam McKay along with co-writer Will Ferrell have fashioned an imminently subversive, satiric, and peculiar comedy centered on Ferrell’s strengths as a one of a kind comedic performer. Ferrell is adept at garnering laughs out of the most bizarre of situations; making his signature simple-minded characters into believable personas. In his previous lead role as the titular character in ‘Elf’, he took his natural skill at portraying a kind of wide-eyed innocence and played it to the hilt. In the process, he was at once truthful and, perhaps most of all, likable. Well, in ‘Anchorman’ he once again brings a sort of baby-faced naiveté to his chauvinistic title character. It is only through his sheer likable nature and dumfounded honesty that there's any comedy at all in dialogue that seems to have been ad-libbed by the actors.
That is not to say that he is the only talented comic to be found in ‘Anchorman.’ First and foremost, Steve Carell gives an astonishingly goofy performance as the sportscaster with a 45 IQ. His character, similar in some ways to Ferrell’s Burgundy, projects a pitch-perfect geniality; coming across as a man who is patently unaware of his own intellectual deficiencies. David Koechner and Paul Rudd aren’t as memorable in their roles as characters with personality traits that make them relics of a bygone era; nonetheless they are good for a few laughs. Finally, as the go-getter, Veronica Corningstone, Christina Applegate garners one’s sympathy putting up with some very misogynistic behavior from her male coworkers.
Where, then, does the film falter? To put it bluntly, the film lacks a definable plot trajectory. The film conjures up events and actions on the part of characters with no thought as to why they are happening and their overall plausibility in regards to the film as a whole. Characters appear out of nowhere; usually personalities with one defining trait and acted by a well-known comedian, to give Burgundy and his coworkers something to do. This leads to innumerable cameos; in fact, one scene in particular boasts four cameos alone. Aside from the recognition of who is making an appearance, this tactic comes across nothing more than gimmicky. The film also makes the mistake of betraying its quirky origins for an all too familiar finale; something done better with little variation in other comedies.
After all that has been said, what is one to make of ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’? Well, it is an average comedy that benefits from good performances across the board while containing a plot lacking in continuity and plausibility.