Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy Review

Not since the first Austin Powers movie seven years ago have I laughed as much at a film as I did at Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy. This year has already restored my faith in mainstream American comedy, thanks mainly to Starsky And Hutch and Dodgeball but, while those were merely very funny, this is an instant classic and a personal triumph for its co-writer and star, Will Ferrell. A regular on sketch show Saturday Night Live for seven years and a familiar supporting actor from movies like Zoolander, Ferrell finally hit it big last year with Old School and the surprise Christmas blockbuster, Elf. He may be the funniest comedian currently working in the movies and Anchorman is far and away his best work so far. The title character, the most pompous man who ever lived, fits Ferrell like a glove and the fun he's having playing him is contagious.

It's the mid 1970s, a time when men are still men, and Ron Burgundy is more man than most. A moustachioed alpha male, Ron is the chief anchorman - or newsreader - for the top-rated local TV station in San Diego. He's loved by the public and idolised by his co-workers: redneck sports anchor Champ Kind (David Koechner), womanising reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and dimwitted weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). Together they make up the News Team, a dedicated and manly crew who work hard, play hard and routinely risk their lives to bring their viewers human interest stories about cute animals.

Their macho lifestyle comes under threat when station manager Ed Harken (Fred Willard) hires a new reporter and not just any reporter... a woman! Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is an ambitious career woman to boot, who may initially be assigned to cat fashion shows but whose dream is to be the first female news anchor. The News Team's outrage quickly turns to lust when they discover Veronica is a babe. The boys take turns trying to impress her, using the finest 1970s pick-up techniques to no avail, although Veronica does, against her better judgement, warm up to Ron. Even more surprisingly, Ron falls for her, experiencing feelings that should be alien to a he-man like himself. They begin dating but their rivalry at work proves to be a big stumbling block on the way to true love.

Anchorman's story taps three rich sources of humour: the 1970s, local news reporting and the male ego, all of which are mercilessly lampooned. The macho attitudes of the News Team provide the best material. The scenes where they try to seduce Veronica had me literally crying with laughter. It may be Ferrell's film but his co-stars David Koechner, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell all deserve their share of praise, as does the great Fred Willard, the commentator in Best In Show, who milks a good running gag about his family problems. There are also a few starry cameos from Ferrell's friends, some of whom play rival newsreaders violently jealous of Ron's ratings. Not all of these digressions are necessary but they give Anchorman a disarming silliness and a spontaneous quality, as if the cast made it up as they went along. Even when a joke or a scene falls flat, like the battle of the anchormen, it comes almost as a relief to take a break and get your breath back before the next one cracks you up.

Overall

9

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:51:29

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