“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” – 2.5 STARS

ANCHORMAN posterThere are a lot of people who absolutely love “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. I’ve heard so many people talk about its hilarity and give it rave reviews. Yet I have stayed away from it for several reasons, mainly Will Ferrell. I know most people love the guy and find him hysterical, but I can only handle his brand of humor in small doses. Another turnoff for me was seeing that “Anchorman” is a Judd Apatow production. Again, I know Apatow’s movies have a big audience but I’m not into his insistent crass and raunchy style. So the question becomes why would I watch this film? Simply put, I’ve been asked about this movie so many times that I felt I should give it an objective look.

Let me get this out of the way first. “Anchorman” isn’t as bad as I feared. In fact it has several clever gags and some laugh-out-loud funny moments. But it also has the same flat and unfunny “humor” that plagues most of Ferrell’s movies. And of course Apatow’s dull raunchy influence is found at different points throughout the film. It’s really a shame because I like good absurdist comedy and “Anchorman” has a lot of that. But there are also several moments where the movie thinks it’s a lot funnier than it actually is. This roller coaster ride between funny and unfunny scenes can be a little taxing.

Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, a beloved and legendary anchorman for San Diego’s #1 ranked Channel 4 News. His popularity is citywide and he’s considered the big fish in the San Diego news reporting community. He rolls with his news team consisting of his loud and obnoxious sportscaster “Champ” Kind (David Koechner), his fashion-conscience field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and team weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) who is basically the village idiot and that’s saying something considering the company of clowns he keeps. The four are given a pretty long leash by their boss Ed Harken (Fred Willard) and they spend it partying with newsroom groupies.

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The film is set in the 1975 and it spends a lot of time spoofing the male-dominated society of the time. Burgundy and company view women as a lesser species whose main purpose is to serve them and their “needs”. Of course their sexism is so insanely over the top that it’s often times quite funny. That sets up quite a clash when these moronic Neanderthals learn that, in the interest of diversity, the station has hired a beautiful news reporter named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Ron thinks it’s a ridiculous idea and that there’s no room for women in the news room. But he underestimates Veronica’s tenacity and ambition. He also underestimates her irresistible beauty and charm, and his attraction to her jeopardizes his role as a chauvinistic icon.

Ferrell co-wrote the script and I assume he tried to cater his role to his style of comedy. He has his moments where he’s very funny but there are also several times where his character’s gags land with a thud. Some of his jokes are so shallow and poorly written that they resemble material you would hear during a subpar comedy club’s amateur hour. But Ferrell does provide some good laughs especially when he’s swapping lines with his team. But overall I don’t think he’s the funniest character in the film. For me it was Steve Carell. He’s a complete space cadet and he had me laughing nearly every time he spoke. I also thought Applegate was very good as the straight person in the midst of a ton of lunacy. There’s also some really fun scenes with Willard. He’s a guy that can be very funny if given the right material.

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There are several cool touches that make the movie fun. I loved Bill Curtis’ pitch-perfect narration. The hyper-70’s wardrobes and hairstyles are a blast and the whole parody of the 70’s network news scene worked for me. Ferrell and gang play within this period sandbox and they’re clearly having a ton of fun. There are also a host of interesting cameos that pop up along the way. Some work while others are pretty pointless. I also have to tip my hat to Ferrell’s willingness to humiliate himself to get a laugh. It doesn’t always work but more often it does.

“Anchorman” actually attempts to provide some social commentary within its outlandish humor but I don’t think it pulls it off. For me it’s a film better appreciated as an insanely silly and preposterous comedy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately it’s a terribly uneven film and you have to wade through numerous flat and unfunny jokes to get to the good stuff. It seems that for every hilarious gag “Anchorman” gives you two boring and lazy ones. And of course there’s the Apatow signature toilet humor that’s just as cheap and annoying as in Judd’s other pictures. And it’s really a shame. “Anchorman” has a number of great scenes and I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. Unfortunately I found myself rolling my eyes just as much.

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43 thoughts on ““Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” – 2.5 STARS

  1. Nice review Keith. I’m a big fan of Anchorman, although I can see why people don’t really like it. I’m not the biggest Will Ferrell fan though, I don’t really like most of his other films. I’m pretty sure the sequel for this is going to be pretty terrible though.

    • Anchorman may be his most popular film. It seems like most people I know love it. That’s why wanted to give it a shot. But in the end it’s still not my thing. 🙂

  2. I’m definitely open to different reviews of films that have very good, or high reputations. Thing is, in the toiletbowl that is modern comedy as a genre, I think Anchorman is probably one of the best comedies we’ve had in the last decade. And I’m not really an apatow groupie, I either seem to love or hate them, and I think Will Farrell’s quite awful given his recent films. Just the general satire and style, along with the sheer ridiculousness of the humour, along with a really applaudable cast makes Anchorman superb in my eyes.

    • Appreciate the great comments. I figure most will disagree with me as most I’ve talked to love it. For me it was terribly unbalanced. There are some great comedic moments but they’re so often times bookended by gags that I thought were incredibly lame and flat. At one point I thought I was really going to like it. But when taken as a whole I found just as man things unfunny than funny. But I’m in the minority here. 😉

      • See for me, I don’t really expect a comedy film to be funny at every moment, because of course different things appeal to different people. Slapstick for some, wit for others, crassity for another audience and toilet humor for those inclined, that’s why even though Anchorman isn’t hilarious throughout in maintains humor I think, and has some truly big laughs. Just a different point of view to consider.

      • Oh I don’t expect every joke to work. The point I was stressing was that not only do some of the jokes not work but they’re incredibly lame and for me some were laborious to endure. I’ve watched comedies before that I didn’t find all that funny but they were at least competently conceived and didn’t take away from the film. Sadly, for me, Anchorman didn’t pull that off.

  3. Nice review. I agree, I didn’t find it funny and I’m actually a fan of Will Ferrell, though I do prefer his SNL stuff. Carrell was good in his role, but the movie tried too hard to get laughs.

    • Most people do love it. Just not my thing I guess. I can’t see myself watching it again anytime soon even though it did provide more genuine laughs than I expected.

    • I did indeed Fogsmiester! If it’s any consolation I did consider giving it 3 stars. But then I thought of the dog conversations, the bear fight, etc. etc. etc. Yep, 2.5 stars! 😉

      • So you’re fully under the Ferrell/Apatow spell Fogsatolla? I just can’t see why the movie gets such a pass. So much of what Ferrell is doing is rehashed from other roles. And I gotta admit I thought a lot of the humor was lazy and cheap. But I also gotta say that the 2.5 rating was better than I expected to give going in.

  4. God, I dislike Will Ferrell’s comedy. He isn’t funny at all for me. You managed to find something good to say about it, that says something about you. I wouldn’t have wasted my time reviewing it. Ha!

  5. Oh, I thought it was just me that called Emperor’s New Clothes on Anchorman. I have tried to watch it four or five times and given up every single time. It’s so unfunny it makes me want to cry that this is a film being held up as a modern comedy classic.

    • Thanks for commenting! Glad to hear I’m not the only one. Even though it sounds as if I like it a tad more than you, we’re definitely on the same page. So many things in it fall flat which hurts its genuinely funny moments.

  6. I could see how some people would be upset that you didn’t LOVE this movie but I’m in your camp Keith. I mean there are some funny parts in this but overall some of the jokes are done to push the envelope and sometimes it doesn’t work. “Apatow signature toilet humor that’s just as cheap and annoying as in Judd’s other pictures” Yep, that’s why I’m not a fan of his work generally, I prefer comedies that don’t have to resort to that gross level, y’know.

    • Glad I’m not alone on this one. I found myself laughing several times in the movie but I also had numerous times where I was just shaking my head. There are just some things I don’t find funny and Apatow and Ferrell must.

  7. Nice review. I personally have great affection for Anchorman. I used to have a tradition where I would watch it every time I had a really bad hangover. So for a year or two there I would literally watch it most weekends. Me and Anchorman got through some tough times.

    I rarely have big nights these days, so the hangover cure is not required very often at all. But I still enjoy the film when I pop it on.

  8. Anchorman is definitely an acquired taste (so is Ferrell, for that matter). I gave this another watch a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but I have to agree that it’s nowhere near as good as some people make it out to be. I have heard enough Anchorman quotes to last a lifetime.

  9. Interesting review, Keith (can I call you Keith?). I’m in the “Absolutely Love Anchorman” camp, but you laid out why you didn’t like it pretty clearly, and can see where you coming from. Even if I do disagree!

    On one of your points, I actually find Steve Carell the least funniest thing in the movie. He’s just there to shout idiotic stuff.

    Is this actually the first time you’ve seen Anchorman? It does come with a huge weight of expectation. I remember having it recommended to me endlessly as well, until I crumbled and watched it.

    And I hated it. About a year later I watched it again, and it was like watching a different movie. And now I love it. I can’t believe I ever hated it. It’s endlessly quotable.

    So I would say give it some time, and then rewatch it. And then write a new review giving it full marks! 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting (and yes Keith is perfectly alright). I actually went into Anchorman with really low expectations mainly because of my dislike for Ferrell and Apatow. In a really weird way it exceeded my expectations. Sound weird considering my review, right? 🙂

  10. I can’t fathom why people rate this so highly, man. I think it’s a load of crap and one of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen. I think my rating was 1 star.

  11. I’m with you, Keith.

    I love comedies. Though cleverly written. Which this is clearly not. It’s along the same juvenile antics of another unfunny SNL alumni: Adam Sandler.

    ‘Anchorman’ is painfully unfunny. The ‘laugh out loud moments’ you’d spoken of.. where exactly?

    Admittedly I do like Ferrell’s character and movie, ‘Old School’. Perhaps it’s because he played a side note character?

    Though more times than not his comedic style is completely MIA.

    I even enjoyed his, ‘Eastbound & Down’ series. Though his character, ‘Ashley Schaeffer’ is again, grindingly unfunny.

    Ferrell’s a surprisingly better dramatic actor. ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ showed more diversity than I’d expected.

    ~ Cheers

    • Hey thanks for checking out the review and I appreciate the comments. I haven’t given his dramatic work a fair shake. Maybe I should give them a shot.

      I’m glad I’m not alone when it comes to Anchorman. I’ve learned that there re several people who share my thoughts on it. Yet there are others who hold it in very high regard. I just don’t see it!

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