of Ron Burgundy
- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
e've all seen our share of wacky comedies over the years, but Adam McKay's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" is certainly up there in terms of movies that make me laugh out of sheer silliness. And to think it almost never happened. Though the period comedy – written by McKay and longtime pal Will Ferrell – was originally turned down when it was pitched around Hollywood, the minute that Ferrell became a big star, every studio in town wanted a piece of the movie. That didn't make it any less of a gamble, however, because while "Anchorman" is filled with moments of uncontrollable laughter, it would just as soon fall apart without its cast.
In a time when cable TV was nonexistent and only men were allowed to read the news, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) is at the height of his career. As San Diego’s top-rated newsman, Burgundy is ablaze with a hefty ego and the perfect sign-off: “Stay classy, San Diego.” Followed by a news team of equally chauvinistic male friends – “on the street” guy Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), closet gay sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), and mentally challenged weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) – Burgundy is a local hero just waiting for his call to the big leagues. But when station manager Ed Harken (Fred Willard) brings the smart and sexy Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) in to help diversify the station, Ron must learn to adapt in order to retain his celebrity status.
Ron Burgundy might just be Will Ferrell's best character to date, as it plays to many of the comedian's strengths – namely being loud, obnoxious and just a tad naïve. Though it might seem like a generic stereotype of most news anchors from the 70s, Ferrell's manic energy takes it beyond parody and into a brilliant dance of buffoonery. It's probably a little too soon to be comparing him to someone like Peter Sellers, but his work in "Anchorman" definitely suggests that he could carve out a similar career if he's capable of toning down the antics and delivering a performance with a bit more nuance.
Though Ferrell will do just about anything for a laugh, the movie is still pretty hit and miss throughout. Fortunately, the script is loaded with so many jokes that most of the ones that don't work are quickly offset by a chain of ones that do. Whether it's the news team breaking into song or getting involved in a "West Side Story"-inspired rumble with the other local newsmen (Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller in a short but sweet cameo), the foursome is funnier together than apart. Paul Rudd proves that he's a better sidekick than a leading man, while Steve Carell steals nearly every scene he's in as the dumb-as-a-rock newsman with the social skills of a toddler.
"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" definitely isn't for everyone, but although the humor can be pretty lowbrow at times, it's also surprisingly witty in its satirizing of the 1970s and the TV news industry. Granted, there probably wasn't a very big demand for a comedy about either of those things, but that's exactly what makes it so funny. And for fans of Ferrell and his brand of surrealist humor, this might just be his magnum opus.
The Rich Mahogany Edition Blu-Ray Review:
It’s currently only available as a Best Buy exclusive, but fans of “Anchorman” are going to want to track down this two-disc Blu-ray release for their collections. Along with two versions of the film (each with its own commentary track), the Rich Mahogany edition boasts never-before-seen extras like deleted and extended scenes, cast auditions, and a behind-the-scenes look at the “Afternoon Delight” recording session, as well as a pack of collectible trading cards and a copy of Ron Burgundy's appointment book. All of the extras from the DVD release also appear, and though that’s probably more than a movie like "Anchorman" needs, at least there's some added value to this double dip.