The Most Hilarious Movie You’ve Ever Seen
I didn’t expect a period price about 1970s TV news anchors to be funny. I remember seeing the previews back when Austin Powers was in his heyday thinking, “This is a cheap knockoff. Somebody trying to make money by getting in on a popular idea.” I didn’t even see Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy until relatively recently. But it immediately became one of my favorite and most quoted movies. It’s impossible not to laugh at this massive skit that is a perfect blend of left-field jokes and uncomfortable sexist humor. I was certainly not a Will Ferrell from the comedies he produced before Anchorman. I was so unimpressed by the Saturday Night Live skit based films that he did, like Night at the Roxbury, that Old School, Elf, and this film all flew under my radar. It wasn’t until I saw Stranger Than Fiction that Will Ferrell really got my attention and I began to look back through his filmography. And found that he has remarkable comedic timing and a way of fluctuating between over the top and deadpan deliveries that really translates well to the screen.
But his crowning achievement is the creation of this fictional San Diego legend. You see, in the Seventies, men read the news. And the movie tells us that in San Diego, no one read it better than Ron Burgundy. In fact, he reads so well off the teleprompter that he’ll read anything (and I mean that). Burgundy rules the local news arena with the help of his crack news team. All men of course, but when the network forces the station manager (Fred Willard) to hire a female reporter, the sexy Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), the men fall into a panic. And the world that they have come to know and love will never be the same.
Anchorman is a wealth of wickedly stupid humor, the type that’s so dumb it could only ever be thought up by someone intimidatingly smart. That smart duet is Ferrell himself with his co-writer/director Adam McKay, who has teamed up with Ferrell three times since (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys). Ron Burgundy is hopelessly juvenile, terminally inappropriate, and so completely unpredictable that he’s also ridiculously funny. I will wager that this is the only film in which you will find someone shooting flames from the end of a jazz flute. But Anchorman is always willing to take things a few steps farther than you’d expect. The result is comedy which produces unstoppable belly laughs simply from the shock of where Ferrell takes the joke next.
Possibly even more hilarious than Ferrell is his capable news crew. Steve Carrell as Brick Tamland repeatedly doubles me over with insane comments that seem to just come from out of the blue. He shouts, “LOUD NOISES!” when everyone else is in the station manager's office complaining about the addition of Corningstone to the news team. Paul Rudd’s reporter on the scene Brian Fantana is worth seeing just for his musk collection. Even Christina Applegate gets in a few good shots, because she is willing to dish out just as much as her fellow cast mates can throw at her. David Koechner is the weak point as the cowboy hat wearing sportscaster Champ Kind as he just made me uncomfortable. My biggest wish for this film would have been to see John C. Reilly in that spot.
I get the feeling that half of this script was improvised on the spot, and that isn’t a bad thing. I wonder if once they got rolling on set, they just couldn’t stop. The talent pool on this cast was so deep, I can totally believe that at some point they simply abandoned the printed page after realizing they were coming up with better stuff just giving each other the giggles. And with cameos from people like Tim Robbins, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Vince Vaughn the comedy chemistry and laugh factor is wrenched up even higher.
The movie suffers somewhat from what seems like a hastily thrown together finale, in which everything a little too neatly works out in the end. Anchorman is a movie that grows on you and only seems to get better the more I watch it and think about it. Whether he’s taking Veronica to the “gun show,” fighting bears, singing a song from the Starland Vocal Band, throwing burritos at bikers, or weeping over the loss of his beloved Baxter, Ron Burgundy is the perfect outlet for Will Ferrell’s unique brand of comedy. Anchorman 2 is a sequel that I hope they can iron out the details on and get produced, because the world needs more Ron Burgundy.
Do you like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy as much as I do? What movie makes you bust a gut? Two Vince Vaughn comedies were close seconds for me (Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers), as well as any number of modern classics from Mel Brooks. What movies do you think is insanely funny? I’d love to head abor ir,