This Just In -- Burgundy Is Hilarious
Self-absorbed characters usually make wonderful comic targets. In Anchorman, Will Ferrell takes full advantage of this tried-and-true theme with his very funny performance as Ron Burgundy, a pompous San Diego TV newsman of the 1970s. Yes, it’s a far cry from Ferrell’s appealing turn as the gentle Elf in his last movie -- but almost as hilarious.
What are the most important qualifications for a TV anchorman? Burgundy thinks he has them all: a well-trimmed mustache, beautifully coiffed hair, suits so fine “they make Sinatra look like a homeless person,” and the ability to read a teleprompter. Back in the 70s, anchormen positions were reserved for males only, so imagine Burgundy’s dismay when a female is named as his co-anchor. Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) means business. She’s not just a pretty face; she’s a real journalist. No wonder Burgundy feels threatened. And, complicating matters is the fact he’s fallen in love with someone other than himself (and his dog Baxter) for the first time.
By now you know Anchorman isn’t another Network, Broadcast News or even Up Close and Personal. Edward R. Murrow is probably turning over in his grave as you read this review. However, with news beaming out of TV screens 24/7 now, the time seems ripe for poking fun at our television messengers. Anchorman gets away with some outlandish barbs at local TV news teams by making them just that – so outrageous nothing can be taken seriously.
One member of Burgundy’s team (David Koechner) wears a cowboy hat and yells “Whammy” at the slightest provocation, another (Paul Rudd) douses himself with cologne so foul it clears the newsroom, and the third (Steve Carell) has an IQ matching his name, Brick. When challenged by other local news teams (featuring cameos by a recent Oscar winner and other popular actors), these men turn into the “wild bunch” while engaging in a violent free-for-all that still has me laughing just thinking about it.
Directed by first-timer Adam McKay, who also co-wrote the script with Ferrell, Anchorman spends too much time on crude sexual humor of the Saturday Night Live variety, but the rest of the movie worked for me. In particular, a lively animated sequence shown instead of a lovemaking scene between Ferrell and Applegate surprised and delighted me. Very clever! Not surprisingly, Fred Willard (A Mighty Wind) steals all his scenes as a TV station boss who thinks the birth of a Panda at the San Diego zoo is more important than his own son holding the school’s marching band hostage. Willard’s telephone conversations with his character’s troubled son are priceless.
While not my favorite Ferrell performance (that would be Elf or the classic “More Cowbell” musician on SNL), Ron Burgundy takes his place among the multitude of amusing characters brought to life by one of today’s most talented comics.
(Released by DreamWorks and rated “PG-13” for sexual humor, language and comic violence.)