Worth A Look: 34.01%
Pretty Bad: 6.6%
Total Crap: 11.68%
11 reviews, 131 user ratings
|Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
While I was watching Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, I was reminded of the old tale of a group of scientists at a party who examined their calculations and concluded that it was mathematically impossible for a bumblebee to fly.And yet it does.
"This shouldn't work..."
Anchorman isn't all that carefully crafted. The script by star Will Farrell (Elf) and director Adam McKay (who's worked with Farrell before on Saturday Night Live) is scattershot. The film can't decide if it wants to be a period satire or a simple gross out, but somehow it often manages to amuse.
Farrell stars as title character, a vain fellow who has become the most popular newscaster in 1970s San Diego despite the fact that he knows almost nothing about the city (he's under the impression that its name is German).
The rest of the news team at Channel 4 isn't much more knowledgeable. Fellow reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is a smug lecher despite a limited understanding of women, sportscaster Champ Kindís (David Koechner) macho behavior appears to conceal a more than collegial attraction to his teammates, and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell) is almost as smart as his namesake.
Despite their inability to do much other than recite the text on a TelePrompTer, the quartet has become the highest rated news team in San Diego. Whatever chemistry or camaraderie they have starts to evaporate when a new reporter named Veronica Corningstone signs on. In the 70s, it was apparently novel to have women reporting, much less anchoring TV news, and the dim lads take to the change poorly.
Upset that Veronica won't simply leap in bed with them, the guys begin to feel threatened by her because she can deviate from prepared text without embarrassing herself and is smarter than all four of them combined.
This setup and the film's consistent ridicule of an industry that stresses anchor appearance over news content has some promise, but Farrell and McKay often are looking for a springboard instead of a foundation.
For the most part, this is not really a problem because some of the biggest laughs have little to do with the premise. Keep an eye out for some amusingly outrageous musical sequences (youíll never think of jazz flute quite the same way again).
It also doesnít hurt that Farrell is one of the few Saturday Night Live veterans who can carry a film or can come up with more than 90 minutes of inspired lunacy. It takes some skill to make a dim, sexist clod like Ron interesting, and Farrell does imbue him with enough sympathy to make Ronís comeuppance seem like more than a simple eventuality. While Farrell is, like Ron, out in front, the supporting cast, particularly Carrell, has plenty of fine moments. There are also some funny cameos that you might miss if youíre not alert.
Some of the exchanges look improvised, and Farrell reportedly came up with some of his better zingers on the fly. The film might have felt a little more cohesive if he and McKay had refined the tale a little before shooting.
The laughs both genuine and guilty are still here, but some their ideas, like having the tale narrated by real life broadcast reporter Bill Kurtis, donít work. Many of the lines arenít funny on paper (ďWhy donít you go back to your home on Whore Island!Ē Ron bellows at Veronica), and itís the actorsí timing, not the material that makes the scenes work.
The movie scores several points by ridiculing the superficiality of most local newscasts. The most urgent story this crew must handle is a panda birth, and itís striking how little the actual events in the city figure into a typical dayís work for this crew. The biggest concern this bunch has to deal with is the status of a hairdo or how to survive a deadly rumble involving rival TV stations.After walking out of the theater, I was struck by how I had laughed at lines like the one quoted earlier even though they werenít especially witty. Nothing in Anchorman will be mistaken for the work of Preston Sturges, but the occasional chuckle and even a loud guffaw is unavoidable.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10198&reviewer=382
originally posted: 01/01/05 09:56:17