Anchorman came came out when Will Ferrell was Hollywood’s new king of comedy. The former SNLer’s Christmas blockbuster “Elf” charmed the most cynical of moviegoers. But Will had more to prove!
His next foray into the silver-screen comedy arena finds Will Ferrell playing a macho-TV-news-anchorman named Ron Burgundy, who is flanked by on-air personalities Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Champ Kind (David Koechner).
Their reign atop the TV news arena in the late 1970s San Diego is threatened when smart and devoted newswoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) enters their newsroom with aspirations of becoming an anchor herself.
The conflict with Corningstone and rival networks is the core of the film and a lot of the great scenes and jokes come from those encounters. The friction and chemistry between Ferrell and Applegate can be hilarious and brilliant when the direction allows for it.
What is probably the film’s biggest downfall is that it feels and comes off as a 90-min Saturday Night Live skit that has been lifted to the silver screen.
Director Adam McKay is a former SNL head writer where he worked a lot of time one-on-one with Ferrell. This relationship is used and helps immensely on developing the character of Burgundy. But I did feel that the director comfort with his on-screen characters lacked when dealing with Applegate and in some ways Ferrell’s anchor cohorts.
Sure we have Will Ferrell who is priceless as his title character Burgundy but the jokes around and away from Ferrell seem quite forced. Steve Carell’s Brick gets a lot of great one-liners which makes him stand out. Paul Rudd’s Fantana is funny but overshadowed by Ferrell and Carell.
What really did it for me was the alley/grudge match between all the news anchors in Chicago.
The “Gangs of New York” spoof was a little to much for this viewer and made the film seem to lose its way.
The moments when “Anchorman” is a laugh riot are so unforgettable that a lot of the time you can find yourself stepping away from the comedy’s quagmires unscathed.
Looking back, Anchorman still ranks as Will Ferrell’s best movie ever!
3.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.