ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY
In 1970s San Diego, the local tv station newsroom is male dominated, with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) as the leader, the king, the anchorman. With the arrival of feminism, the station hires Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) who is a better journalist than any of the men, and ambitious to boot. A war of the sexes erupts, as the dismal males try to out-swagger the woman who won't settle for cat fashion show stories and who won't back down.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Anchorman is not a film you analyse. You feel it through your funny bone. My funny bone twitched here and there... It's seriously silly, moderately funny and occasionally terrific, but the dead spots and the comedy that doesn't work is like all dead comedy: irritating. A comic once said to me rather tragically, "If they don't like a singer, it's the voice....but if they don't like a comedian, it's personal. They hate you."
Well, he felt hate was not too strong a word, but I think that depends on circumstances. I certainly don't hate any of the cast in Anchorman, even though I didn't always dig the humour. Sometimes there wasn't any humour to dig, just a crazy idea.
And I do respect that; I respect the effort and the bravery and the fear that drives comedians. In this larger than life situation comedy, the situation is the 70s at the dawn of feminism, and the male preserve of the newsroom. The concept puts a woman with talent, ambition and balls into the playpen. Some of the material works, some doesn't. Like a stand up comedy room, you take your chances. So does the audience.
If male chauvinism as a running gag prods your funny bone, you will find it funny - as did some of the women in the media preview. This may be a clue to its potential.
Review by Louise Keller:
Set in the 70s, when men ruled television newsrooms Anchorman is a satirical and silly comedy about male presenters with gargantuan egos. Conceived and written by Will Ferrell (Elf) and former Saturday Night Live writer Adam McKay, who also directs, this is a comedy that self-parodies and sets about to be silly. Admittedly, some of it is very funny. Ferrell fans (or might I say, feral fans?) will get the most out the film, although it is a little hard pressed to maintain for the duration.
The script comes and goes. When it comes, it comes with a wallop, but when it goes, it just feels plain dull. All roads point to the wonderful scene when all San Diego's television anchors (all men, of course) come head to head in a crazy conflict, toting knife, chain, hand-grenade, hammer, gun and trident. The biggest joke comes from the cameos by Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson. It's this overdone style of comedy that works best, dismembered limbs not withstanding. I also enjoyed the fantasy scene, when Christina Applegate's Veronica (to the strains of Tom Jones' Help Yourself) urges amorous Ron to take her to Pleasure Town, amid angels, stars, rainbows and unicorns. Their climactic free-falling brings us back to earth, and as ecstasy abates, we find them waking up in Ron's bed.
Many scenes are like elongated sketches as Ron and Veronica go through the motions of courtship, followed by combat-ship, when there are no holds barred when ego and ambition are concerned. Ron's Achilles heel is that he will read absolutely anything that scrolls in the tele-prompt, a fact that Veronica has no hesitation to (mis) use. Ron also has a cute-as-a-button dog called Baxter, whom he calls a miniature Buddha covered in hair. Look for the scene involving Baxter and a crazy cameo from Jack Black as an incensed bikie, and there's an entertaining encounter at the zoo when hibernating Kodiak bears are prompted to wake up quickly.
Ferrell performs to his heart's content, ably supported by a madcap team comprising Paul Rudd as the field reporter, Steve Carell as uncool weatherman Brick and David Koechner as Champ, the nutty sportscaster, who hides under his cowboy hat. Character names are fun too, and needless to say, Ron dresses in burgundy. Applegate delivers, although she never seems as much in her element as she did in Married With Children.
Anchorman may be funnier in its parts than in its entirety, but for those in search of a rib tickle, it may fit the bill.
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ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (M)
CAST: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Kathryn Hahn, Fred Armisen
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCRIPT: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thomas E. Ackerman
EDITOR: Brent White
MUSIC: Alex Wurman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 21, 2004
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.