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  • Jun 14, 2012
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

Adam McKay's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" is a full-time, full-force farce. A lot of comedies tend to at least try and achieve some sort of slight dramatic resonance, but this film has a whoopee cushion for a brain. Whenever the artificial sound of a fart is triggered, the film gets inspired. But that's just how it works. And it might have rendered the screenplay - which it racy, talky, and somewhat raunchy (although only extended to dick and fart jokes instead of consistent profanity or graphic vulgarity) - unable to provoke a sufficient reaction from the audience, but perfect comic timing and a proud sense of oddball wackiness lends it a certain charm. I've seen better comedies, better performances, and better scripts, and better everything; but "Anchorman" is not great and it knows it. Yet, there are quotes and scenes from the movie that do not easily escape the mind and the memory. Some may love it solely for the legacy that it has effortlessly acquired over the years. McKay and his team go for cheap laughs and get them, but remember; it takes damn good performance art to make even the lowest of humor effective. So in that sense, McKay gets a lot right as a director.

But I've always admired him as a filmmaker. The film is set in the 1970's (presumably) and recreates the era quite convincingly, if not somewhat excessively for a comedic effect. The title character is Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), an arrogant news anchorman for San Diego's evening news. Other members of the news team that also act as Ron's friends include the suave Brian (Paul Rudd), the crude Champ (David Koechner), and the borderline mentally retarder Brick (Steve Carell). Ron is the sort of wealthy, sharply-dressed bastard that has little manners and as it would seem little skill as well. He reads off a teleprompter (and literally anything and everything that comes up on it), slacks off when he's not on the air, and throws huge parties after work on the weekends. At one party, he spots a rather beautiful woman named Veronica (Christine Applegate). His advances on her are at first unsuccessful and sloppy, but they will soon meet again, for Veronica has just been appointed the position of co-news-anchor.

There's a part in the film where every member of the central "crew" attempts to seduce Veronica, although most of these "attempts" come off as sexual harassment. But Ron gets what he wants when he wants, and is able to woo the lady of interest upon taking her out to dinner at a fancy restaurant in which Ron sometimes plays the jazz flute (and he does on this particular night, in a hilarious scene). Soon, the two are engaged in a relationship; although it's this very relationship that later puts Ron's job and social life in jeopardy. He should have trusted his ignorant, professional gut from the very moment it began to give off-signals.

The plotting isn't terribly impressive and somewhere in the third act, the film began to lose me a little bit; but it's the little details that count here. All-in-all, I think the screenplay is pretty damn clever. To have the news team act as a sort of Power Rangers-esque unit - as exemplified in a scene where the team fights three fellow news crews, including one headed by Vince Vaughn and another by a Spanish Ben Stiller - was a really smart move, as this aspect certainly gets the most laughs. The slapstick humor is set at just the right pace, and for that reason it deserved every laugh that it got out of me, but the satire counts for even more. Of course, the two go hand-in-hand. Scenes in which Ron and Veronica duke it out verbally at the end of the show are both silly and commentary-bound. It's obvious satire, yes, but it's still satire, and it works. The film is well-cast and made, with a few memorable gags (one that had me in stitches involved Jack Black in a biker cameo kicking Ron's pet dog off a bridge like a football) and some undeniably classic one-liners. I don't regard it as a total classic, but it deserves its place in time. In a sense, every worthy and consistently funny comedy does.

Will Ferrell is hardly one of my favorite comic actors, but I still end up admiring him in nearly every picture he's in. While I think he works best in supporting roles, he does fine as a leading man; especially when partnered with director McKay. The two seem to see eye-to-eye on just about everything (which is probably why they often collaborate on the screenplays for their films) and I think it works best that way. The show-stealers here are Carrel in his mentally deficient role, and Rudd as the smooth sleaze-bag who in one scene wears a fragrance that he calls "Sex Panther", which really smells like utter shit. Also, Fred Willard plays the program's director; so that's a plus right there, and it helps that he has some very funny phone conversations throughout the film. So this isn't Ferrell's movie entirely. He very politely shares the spotlight with his co-stars, and therein lies the magic of the film's appeal. "Anchorman" presents a reverse Edward R. Murrow and a twisty world in which whatever these people do passes as taut journalism. I'm glad we don't live in a world like that. But it's very reminiscent of reality. That is precisely what satire is for.

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More Anchorman: The Legend of Ron B... reviews
review by . April 06, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Anchorman just happens to be one of those movies that have a very interesting concept but it can seem incredibly stupid at the same time. I can't lie because I am a big Will Ferrell fan so I was very hype to see it when it came out so I went right to the theatres. I came out with a lot of anger and all I could say was it was horrible. After seeing it in the theatre for some reason I bought the DVD and now I can't stop watching it. See these types of movies need a tremendous amount of nothing to …
review by . December 09, 2005
"Anchorman" just didn't do it for me. At once it was a laugh out loud, slap your mama funny movie and then it becomes this dull, worn out, drawn out and unfunny Saturday Night Live skit from the mid-90's. In other words, when it is funny, it's very funny, but when it misses the mark, it misses by a good ol' country mile.    Will Ferrell goofs his way through this flick in sometimes funny, but mostly annoying, fashion. Christina Applegate wasted herself here. The "newsteam" that …
review by . July 12, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Ferrell, cameos     Cons: not funny, boring, awful characters     The Bottom Line: "It's anchorman not anchorlady!"     In comedy, there is such a thing as good stupid. Dude, Where’s My Car? was certainly a stupid movie featuring stupid characters, but at least it made me laugh. It doesn’t take much to make me chuckle, but I think I laughed approximately five times during Anchorman, and two of those were during the outtakes …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

Will Farrell followed up his star-making vehicleElf, which matched his fine-tuned comic obliviousness to a sweet sincerity, with a more arrogant variation on the same character: Ron Burgundy, a macho, narcissistic news anchor from the 1970s. Along with his news posse--roving reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd,Clueless), sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner), and dim-bulb weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell,Bruce Almighty)--Burgundy rules the roost in San Diego, fawned upon by groupies and supported by a weary producer (Fred Willard,Best In Show) who tolerates Burgundy's ego because of good ratings. But when Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate,View from the Top) arrives with ambitions to become an anchor herself, she threatens the male-dominated newsroom.Anchormanhas plenty of funny material, but it's as if Farrell couldn't decide what he really wanted to mock, and so took smart-ass cracks at everything in sight. Still, there are moments of inspired delirium.--Bret Fetzer
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Details

Director: Adam McKay
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: 9 July 2004 (USA)
Screen Writer: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Runtime: 94 min
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