Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is the best anchorman in the world, or so this film’s narration wants us to believe. He drinks and smokes at his desk, right before going on-air, but all of San Diego loves him, because he’s charismatic and can deliver his lines from the teleprompter religiously, regardless of any distractions, both outer and inner. It helps that the other on-screen talent he works with is full of a bunch of silly people who barely function in society.

This is, of course, threatened when a woman — this is the ’70s, so having a woman on the news is “awful” — named Veronica (Christina Applegate) joins the crew and is immediately the superior anchorman, simply because she’s not played by Will Ferrell. Although, could you imagine if she was played by Ferrell? That image might be funnier than anything in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Ron and Veronica become a couple, soon after she joins the cast, although, as you might expect, that won’t last long when competition for a single position gets involved.

If nothing else, at least I never felt as if Anchorman dragged. The plot, as I remember it, is very simple and easy to remember, and seems to move by at a breakneck pace. Looking back, I’m not even sure how it managed to take up more than 90 minutes. Perhaps it’s because these types of movies often have characters in extended “funny” conversations that go on and on, seemingly until the actors are doing ad-libbing. And then, unlike most people who would trim these conversations, the entirety is left in the finished product by the filmmakers.

This might not be too much of a problem for me if I appreciated and enjoyed this type of humor, but with a movie starring Will Ferrell, that’s rarely the case. With each movie I see from him, I continue to question what people see that I don’t. I think I’ve figured out why they don’t resonate with me. The humor is not tame enough to always be considered “family friendly,” but it’s not raunchy enough to be pushing any boundaries. It sits awkwardly in a zone occupying the minds of those not quite old enough to understand adults, but also finds 6-year-olds to be too childish.

It’s essentially the pre-teen version of humor, a child who hasn’t quite hit puberty, but is trying so hard to fit in with the big kids. It alienates itself from schoolmates for having a potty mouth, scolded by adults because it shouldn’t be saying those things — but behind closed doors they’re laughing at its attempts to “fit in.” It’ll occasionally make a single funny joke, but on the whole fits into an awkward place that simply can’t be funny.

To conclude a really laborious metaphor, Will Ferrell comedies are the kid who knows more than he should but is unsure of how to say it in order to be funny or mature. He knows the swear words and dirty words for genitals but doesn’t know what they mean or what to do with them. I suppose that appeals to some people, but then some people sit through hours of cars going around in a circle in hopes that someone slips and a huge crash happens. It’s not for me, folks.

This one at least gets a little mileage out of its mild satire about the ’70s time period and the “Action News” in particular. When that sort of observational humor was applied, it was quite effective. It’s just that whenever a character opened his or her mouth for more than a few seconds at a time that it started falling apart. And when a comedy like this one begins to deteriorate, it goes down fast and hard. Around the time a bunch of news teams were getting ready for a playground scuffle, continuing to show up even after we had gotten tired of the gag, I had given up.

I suppose I should touch on the supporting cast, especially because it contains some familiar — if not necessarily welcome — names. Paul Rudd is the most likable from where I’m sitting, as he plays a smooth-talking ladies man. Steve Carell plays a “legally retarded” weatherman, David Koechner plays … a cowboy, I think. I’m not really sure of his gimmick, to be quite honest. He’s just kind of there as another body to sometimes attempt to say something funny.

There are a bunch of cameos that are funnier than anything that the main characters say or do, but I’ll leave them to be discovered. It’s a sad thing when the most memorable moment of a film involves Jack Black dressed in motorcycle garb, punting a dog over the railing of a bridge and into a river. Yes, I just spoiled the funniest part of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. You’re welcome. Now you can go watch something that’s actually funny and skip this film.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a Will Ferrell comedy, and nothing more really needs to be said. It has a couple of funny moments, some cameos that will get a chuckle — and when it focuses on making fun of the ’70s, it’s actually not bad. It’s just the drawn-out conversations that seem to be made up on the spot that don’t get trimmed wind up ruining all of that good work. If you like Ferrell, you’ll like this film. If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time finding much to like about it.

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