out of Five
Running time: 94
Although this definitely has its moments, it’s a little too scattershot and frequently misses the target as a result. Not as good as Dodgeball.
The deservedly huge success of Elf has meant that, like him or loathe him, Will Ferrell is now here to stay, and we should be thankful, because at the very least, it means less comedy vehicles for Robin Williams. Sadly, Anchorman doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its admittedly funny trailer, though it does have several good laugh-out-loud gags.
Leading News Anchor Dismayed By New Employee
Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, a TV news anchorman and a local celebrity in 1970s San Diego. Sharp of suit, big of hair and sporting an impressive Comedy Moustache, Burgundy knows that he’s top of the heap and his loyal news team (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner) are only too happy to keep him there.
However, when station manager Fred Willard (hilarious, as usual) decides to bring a woman (Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone) onto their team, all hell breaks loose, particularly when Burgundy finds himself hopelessly attracted to his rival.
The main problem with both the film and the character of Ron Burgundy is that both have the feel of an over-extended Saturday Night Live sketch. The film feels largely improvised, with everyone saying pretty much whatever pops into their heads – this is especially true of IQ-challenged Brick Tamland (Carell), who nearly steals the entire movie.
At any rate, while the free-for-all approach undoubtedly yields some moments of inspired lunacy (the vicious, cameo-heavy gang fight between rival news teams being an obvious example), it also means that a lot of the jokes just fall horribly flat.
Some Hilarious Scenes
That said, there are some hilarious scenes, including: the news team’s increasingly desperate attempts to distract Veronica while she’s reading the news; Veronica and Burgundy’s off-air sniping while the credits are rolling (“I’m going to get a BB gun and shoot you in the back of the head”); and their no-holds barred scrap in the office. In fact, Ferrell and Applegate bounce off each other nicely, generating an appealing comic chemistry.
There’s also an amusing parade of cameo appearances, including Jack Black (as an irate biker who exacts a particularly nasty instant payback on Burgundy’s loveable dog); Vince Vaughn as a rival news anchor and Ben Stiller as…er…another rival news anchor. (Stiller’s cameo actually backfires, however, because his character is so funny that you wish he’d been in the movie properly).
In short, Anchorman is a bit of a disappointment, given the level of talent involved, but the quality of the gags that do work just about makes up for the ones that don’t. Worth seeing.