‘Anchorman’ rides on the humor of Will Ferrell
Let’s return to a world of facial hair and some terrifying polyester clothes — we’re talking multi-colored checkered and full of so much starch not even Hercules could bend them. This silly, embarrassing world is only known as the 1970s. And for this time, we should be thankful, because if it hadn’t happened — by it, I mean huge mustaches and dance-ready music — we wouldn’t have the steadily humorous, if mostly harmless, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”
The title character, a news reader from San Diego named Ron Burgundy, has a penchant for downing some scotch before going on the air, lighting up a cigarette in the comfort of his work office and may or may not treat female coworkers as if they were merely eye candy. All of this, of course, is done in jest, in poking a bit of fun at a time when such outmoded attitudes were the norm.
The film itself actually serves as some sort of feminism celebration, when Ron, played by the ultimate goofball Will Ferrell, blends all of the aforementioned characteristics of a casual, old-day chauvinism into one bundle of ease and sexism and goes up against Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), the new girl on the block. An ambitious go-getter of a reporter, Veronica swoops into Ron’s San Diego territory with eyes on his anchor desk seat. But Ron doesn’t it all to seriously, instead keeping his eyes on Veronica’s feminine charms. Camera direction invites you both to mock Ron and join in her lechery.
But it’s hard to be mad at a character as outrageous as Ron Burgundy, because he’s basically a clueless sweetheart who can play the jazz flute. With these skills in hand, he’s able to seduce Veronica regardless of her reluctance. Then again, no one particularly cares about the plot here, which is typical in this type of movie. Nor are the themes — women can work, love is important — that are buried deep, deep somewhere in this caricature.
Instead, we’re taken on a journey of “What did he just say?” and “How does that make sense?” sequences, backdropped by some fascinating set pieces. The non sequiturs flow aplenty, and crazy utterances (have you ever heard the phrase “whale’s vagina”?) come at you hard and fast. And let’s not forget the news team rumble among rival newsrooms. (Which arguably has to be the movie’s greatest scene.)
Speaking of news teams, Ron’s is nothing short of fantastic. Just as horribly dressed and burdened with sideburns so heavy they must actually weigh them down, his team consists of: investigative reporter Brian (Paul Rudd), sportscaster Champ (David Koechner) and idiot weather guy Brick (Steve Carell). At the helm is Fred Willard, who lets our rejects run wild with an attitude that says he’s done all of this and more before, and better.
In the end, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” directed by Adam McKay (who did work with Ferrell on “Saturday Night Live”), is nothing short of a giveaway to Ferrell and his addictive antics. All that swagger has to be appreciated by someone, right?
Three starchy stars out of five.