MPAA Rating: PG-13/Genre: Comedy/Stars: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Chris Parnell, Kathryn Hahn, Fred Armisen, Fred Willard, Vince Vaughn, Jerry Minor, Laura Kightlinger, Danny Trejo, Jack Black, Judd Apatow, Paul F. Tompkins, Jay Johnston, Adam McKay, Tim Robbins, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Missi Pyle, Seth Rogen, Bill Kurtis/ Runtime: 94 minutes
I think it’s safe to say that although there was a lengthy period of time where gifted comedic man child/ surprisingly effective dramatic actor Will Ferrell and the majority of his comedic compatriots in what came to be known as the “Frat Pack” members weren’t quite able to be on the same tier as such comedic dignitaries as Bill Murray and John Candy to name but a few, this really began to change in the long gone year of 2004 due to the release of a little slice of cinematic pie known as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Equal parts tasteless, misogynist, and raunchy as all get out, this is a film that takes aim at the world of news reporting in the 70s and manages to show just how amusing an anti-p.c. work truly can be in the right hands. Yes lord help anybody that has tried or tries to be the kind of person shown in this film, but in operating as cinematic fare, Anchorman is a genuine stroke of comedic brilliance that permits the viewer to immerse themselves in a world that should by no means exist in the real world. Yes the men in this are chauvinistic to the hilt, the women are very attractive, the dialogue is sexist and then some, and the narrative is downright ridiculous, but it still all manages to blend into an incredibly comedic movie that is a true classic of the comedy genre and one of the finest to come from the 2000s.
The plot is as follows: Anchorman takes us back in time to San Diego in the 1970s and introduces us to a man by the name of Ron Burgundy who is the main anchor at Channel 4 News which is San Diego’s top news program. Suffice it to say Ron is the kind of guy who, thanks to his affable style, brilliant execution, and steady delivery of the news, is more than just a hit with the town; rather he’s also the recipient of quite a few Emmys and best pals with a trinity of fellow newsmen in his office in ladies’ man/roaming reporter Brian Fantana, loud mouthed sportscaster Champ Kind, and complete and utter moronic weather guy Brick Tamland. Yet for as good as things are at the station, things are soon thrown for a serious loop when the station’s sponsors “politely request” that a female report be hired to work alongside the guys. It is with that in mind that we are soon introduced to a woman by the name of Veronica Corningstone who is a very talented reporter who is deadset on taking over as lead anchor and in whom Burgundy is faced with someone who might just be his equal. As a result, we see that Ron and his trinity of co-horts decide to do whatever it takes to get Veronica either fired or so fed up that she leaves their news station for good only for Veronica to catch wise to what they are up to and thus a classic battle of the sexes is about to ensue…..
Now if you want to know what truly makes a comedy film a genuinely great movie period, it’s not exactly how much of the film will make the viewer laugh, but rather in how good of a job the film in question both how much the film is able to etch itself into the world of pop culture whilst also being able to stick around through the utilization of parts of the film that have since gone on to become absolutely legendary in their own right. Indeed slices of cinematic pie like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack to name but a few are all examples of this phenomenon since they are more than just movies by this point. Rather, they are more in synch with some degree of everyday life due to things said in the movies that describe that aspect of life better than anything the “real world” has managed to come up with. In that respect, Anchorman is a film that can now be added to that distinct pantheon due to being filled with phrases such as “stay classy” that not only help you remember the film, but which have also switched out synonymous phrases in our “real world”. Indeed it’s how quotable that goes a long way toward making slices of cinematic pie like this one truly iconic. Sure if you haven’t seen this movie you’ll most likely be scratching your head in confusion, but if you know then you know especially when it comes to getting spend time with this lot since it is their execution of the material that is just as crucial to the success of the material as the material itself.
It is with that in mind that I feel you should know that the cast of this slice of cinematic pie is top-notch in every sense of the word. Indeed each of the main quintet become their respective character so thoroughly that this slice of cinematic pie doesn’t feel like a film and rather like an alternate reality old-school funny yet still chauvinistic documentary from back in the day about a real group of newscasters and their various shenanigans. With that being said, it should come as no surprise to learn that Will Ferrell’s work in this is the best out of the whole cast. I mean there isn’t a whole lot I can really say other than that since his performance is so spot-on and definitely one of the best in this subgenre of comedic movie magic. We also get wonderful work from Christina Applegate as the woman who is at the heart of these men’s simultaneous affection and scorn to the extent that whilst they are stunned by how lovely she is, they also hate that she is part of their workplace. Thankfully, Applegate is able to comprehend this dichotomy and give us a performance that is equally as assertive and gorgeous as it is decent and lively. We also get terrific work from the trinity of actors playing Ron’s supporting newscasters who seem less like professionals and more like Alex’s henchmen from A Clockwork Orange. Indeed, as Champ, Koechner is amazing as a cowpoke-type sportscaster who was clearly born without a filter and as Brian, Paul Rudd is his typical delightful self-albeit with a slight chauvinistic bent. However, if there is one performance out of those three that is near the level of what Ferrell brings to the table, it would be Steve Carell as their hilariously moronic weatherman Brick whose IQ is small and comprehension of what is going on even lower.
Finally, I think it is safe to say that upon watching this you will find it quite immensely difficult to look back on this slice of cinematic pie and pick a moment you enjoy more than the others. Yet this is not a detriment to the overall film; rather it’s because this is a film that is overflowing with genuinely funny jokes, iconic moments, and top-notch performances. Indeed there is really no room to just sit back and catch a breath let alone time to really think about the cast of characters and the various dynamics they have with each other and most assuredly no break for your funny bone since you will, by and large, be laughing through a solid majority of this film. It also doesn’t hurt that, besides the wonderful work done by the quintet of leads, this film also benefits from a group of top-flight co-starring roles and cameo roles from Vince Vaughn as the top news reporter of the second-best news team in San Diego, Luke Wilson as the anchorman who is number three, or even the always delightful Fred Willard in his phenomenal work as Ron and the team’s older news director who finds himself pushed to hire Veronica despite the fact that he is just as sexist as any of the guys under him in the news room to smaller but still funny roles filled in by such people as Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Seth Rogen. Suffice it to say that this is one cast that not only gives through and through truly wonderful performances, but also give us some truly amazing moments with perhaps one of the best in the whole film is the throwdown that occurs between the top 3 news teams, the news team from the station that is pretty much PBS, and the news team from San Diego’s take on Telemundo. Indeed the comedy is played out beautifully against the chaos and just gonzo violence being dished out by teams of newsmen who have no qualms about beating the other guys’ brains out even whilst making sure not to distort in any way the face or hair since that’s every participant’s “prized possession”. Yet whenever it looks like things are about to get too far out of control, film helmer Adam McKay does a wonderful job of keeping things on kilter to say nothing of making sure none of the characters turn into Chuck Norris and are able to overpower the others (that incidentally would not come about until the 2nd one, but that’s another story).
All in all Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a genuinely iconic slice of cinematic pie from the long ago decade that is the 2000s which takes great delight in operating in the iffy realm of comedy that can be found when it comes to the concept of sexism in the workplace. To that end, whilst this slice of cinematic pie is filled to the brim with raunchy comedy and innuendo in equal measure, but it all works beautifully thanks in large part to a phenomenally top-flight cast who all become their respective characters and never once break from that character at any point during the film. Indeed one of the most hilarious films from the 2000s to say nothing of being one that has had an incredible influence on the world of comedy since it first came out all the way back in the long gone year of 2004, I think it’s safe to say that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a true must-see slice of cinematic pie that checks a lot of the right boxes whilst also never once pulling a single punch in its quest to be as funny as possible from beginning to end. On a scale of 1-5 I give Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy a solid 4 out of 5.