Anchorman: the Ron Burgundy Story
written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
directed by Adam McKay
starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner
review by Stephen Notley
Anchorman is like what a Saturday Night Live skit made into a movie would be like if Saturday Night Live skits made into movies weren't 90-minute exercises in beating dead jokes. It's a very, very goofy movie. I mean really goofy, like it makes Zoolander look calm and normal and by-the-book in comparison. Everybody is on, on, the whole time, wildly overacting improv-style, never settling into the nominal taking-the-world-of-the-movie-seriously we see in goofball classics like Airplane. It's the kind of movie where Fred Willard comes off as a figure of sobriety and intelligence.
Funny? Hell yeah, pretty much from the get-go, the opening title claiming "This movie is based on real events. Only the names, places and events have been changed" before dosing us with an opening credit sequence of Ferrell tossing out gags and head-shakers and anything-for-a-laughs as San Diego's #1 anchorman Ron Burgundy getting ready to go on air. And from there it pretty much doesn't stop.
Will Ferrell co-wrote the script, which makes a lot of sense. Usually Ferrell is a comic spike in a movie, a tentpole of laughs from which the rest of the film is draped. Here it's different; everything operates on the Ferrell level of inappropriate jokes, non-jokes said in funny ways, weird timing and gaffes, stuff coming from any direction. It's also refreshing; Anchorman is… I don't want to say too *smart* for the usual round of gross humor poo jokes and fart jokes and puke jokes, but smart or not it skips all three tired old jokestreams on the way to cologne jokes, bear jokes, jazz flute jokes, you name it. You just never know what's gonna hit you next.
If Ferrell is the centre of a whirling disc of Ferrell-style humor, then the rest of the cast are… um… the other parts of the disc. Steven Carell of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show plays weatherman Brick Tamland, a blockheaded retard who lets us know that "Years later, I would be told my IQ was 40." SNL alum David Koechner (Ronnie's ever-more-injured buddy in Run, Ronnie, Run) plays cowboy hat-wearing Champ Kind with lunken energy while Paul Rudd (longtime guest character "Mike" on Friends) sails in as oddly straight-talking sportsman Brian Fantana. And then there's Christian Applegate as Veronica Corningstone, a woman trying to make her way in an ass-slappin', hootin-n-hollerin' man's world. She's the straight girl, I guess, but she fits right in to the popping skit-style humor with all the experience and ease you'd expect from a ten-year veteran of Married With Children.
There's a lot of funny stuff in this movie I don't want to tell you about, stuff like Jack Black's cameo involving a surprising interaction with Ferrell's dog, or the gangland scrap between rival news teams that gets… whoa… a little out of hand. The movie not only zings from gag to gag, it zings from type of gag to type of gag, tossing boner jokes after people-gettin'-hurt gags after bizarro animated sequences after rambling verbal stuff that goes on and on and you laugh cuz you just don't know how to take it. Most of your time at this movie will be spent laughing, with half of it spent laughing more at the fact that you're laughing than at the thing in the movie you're laughing at. Toss in some extra cameos from the likes of Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, not to mention Fred Willard's previously mentioned pillar of normality, and further not to mention Vince Vaughn as a rival news anchor, and you've got some seriously funny crap goin' on, funny enough to make you laugh a bunch of times. What else do you need to hear? See it, already.