“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.


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.


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.


Let me start off by saying that I went into “The Five-Year Engagement” at a slight disadvantage. Unlike many people today, I’m not a fan of Judd Apatow, his films, or most of his usual collaborators. Apatow frequently works with the same casts including Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill – two actors that I instantly avoid, as well Will Ferrell who I feel is terribly overrated. This particular Apatow production stars another favorite of his, Jason Segel who’s nowhere near as annoying as Rogen and Hill, but has never really blown me away either. But I was encouraged to give the movie a try after seeing Emily Blunt’s named attached. I think she’s a fabulous and underrated actress who also has a knack for humor. Unfortunately, despite her wonderful performance and occasional hilarity, “The Five-Year Engagement” is a sluggish and often times erratic romantic comedy that had me checking my watch numerous times.

The film was directed by Nicholas Stoller who also co-wrote the story along with Segel. At it’s core it’s a fairly basic rom-com but with genuine promise. Segel plays Tom Solomon a chef at a fancy San Francisco restaurant. Those familiar with Segel will recognize this character from several of his other pictures. Tom is a dorky but easygoing guy. After a year together, Tom proposes to his girlfriend Violet (Blunt), a psychology graduate who is desperately hoping to be accepted by Berkley for doctoral studies. It doesn’t take us long to see where the story is going. The two begin planning their wedding but soon Violet receives a letter saying she has been accepted by the University of Michigan. The two push back their wedding and Tom sacrifices a chance to be the head chef at a new restaurant to relocate to Michigan.

While in Michigan Violet’s career takes off while Tom grows more and more disenchanted with his job at a sandwich shop. A wedge (that you can see coming a mile away) forms in their relationship and soon her career desires and his hatred for living in Michigan leave them questioning whether they were ever meant to be. Blunt and Segel have a nice chemistry even though there were a few scenes where I couldn’t help but question the authenticity of their relationship. Segel gives a solid performance all while hitting the same notes over and over. Blunt is fantastic and her character has more depth and range than any other in the film. There are several times where their jovial playfulness cracked me up. There are also some more serious scenes where the two work off each other exceptionally well. Then there are the few instances where their relationship feels completely manufactured. This can be attributed to what I think is the biggest problem with this film – the writing.

Segel and Stoller’s story runs into a wall at about the 80 minute mark. With a running time of over two hours, “The Five-Year Engagement” lumbers along to the point where I was taking the movie’s “5 Year” title seriously. Segel and Stoller cram way too much into the film, dragging things out and apparently leaving nothing on the cutting room floor. They take the basic plot points and draw them out well beyond what’s necessary. There were several times where I was so ready for them to move on to the next part of the story. They also stray off into some fairly weird directions. For example, in a dark comedy turn of sorts, Tom becomes this deranged mountain man type. It happens out of the blue and is over before you know it. Overall, the plodding pace and unneeded deviations end up squashing whatever charm and affection the movie builds up.

I also struggled with the erratic use and styles of humor. Now don’t get me wrong, there were instances where I laughed pretty hard. Many of these instances were due to some quirky, out-of-the-blue moment that hit just right. But there’s no real flow to the comedy and many of the gags fall flat. I mentioned the dark comedy turns, but there are also dashes of slapstick and the unfortunate and unfunny raunchy gutter humor that Apatow productions just can’t seem to steer away from. I can think of several of these scenes that added nothing to the movie and that could have been sacrificed for a tighter and more concise story.

“The Five-Year Engagement” has the premise for a smart and entertaining romantic comedy but the overindulged writing and poor execution causes it to fall short. It’s a shame because Blunt is wonderful and her performance feels wasted. But I did find some laughs and our couple do have some good moments on-screen. There are also some good supporting roles that help the movie along as well as some rehashed roles that we’ve all seen before. But in the end it’s the writing that lets the movie down and that may surprise those people who are big fans of these guys.