Depending on your point of view, farce can either be the easiest thing on the planet to write or one of the hardest. When you take a classic series like Blake Edwards' Pink Panther movies you find a hilarious story with incredibly funny jokes added on as enhancement. Then there's the other crop of Farces, much more prevalent today. Take a series of stupid, frequently "Gross Out" jokes and lace them together with a secondary plot as thin as the film stock it's exposed on.
|J.C. Maçek III|
The World's Greatest Critic!
Enter Will Ferrell & Adam McKay's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a 1970's send up of the old Heavily Coiffed and Polyester Suited newsmen of the age. As for this age, it's one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen in my life, except The Day After Tomorrow! But, and here's the rub, it's also incredibly funny! It's not just mildly amusing or giggle inspiring... it's actually incredibly funny!
As the oblivious title character, Will Ferrell cuts a deep-purple swath of tacky suits, Donald-Trump-On-Rogaine hair and Burt Reynolds' ego (and mustache) through the world of '70's San Diego Nightly news. He's larger than life, more popular than Elvis, more trusted than Ted Koppel, and dumber than a crate of used doorknobs. And somehow, in spite of his excess, misguided entitlement and lechery, this is what makes Ron Burgundy endearing! I didn't want to like him, but Will Ferrell could play Kenneth Lay in "The Day Enron Sucked California Dry" and people would walk out saying "Damn! He was neat! What a nice guy!"
The Ron-ster is essentially the leader of an all-boys-club fantastic four action news team consisting of Action Correspondent Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, Phoebe's Hubby from Friends), Action Sports Caster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Action Weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, the Anchorman from Bruce Almighty). Together, they not only report the news, but make the news in every Three's Company-esque singles party with booze, smokes, babes, babes, babes and babes. But the He-Man Woman-Haters news team is boinked on the head when Boss-man Fred Willard hires a... woman! Enter Christina Applegate's yummy Veronica Corningstone, the no-nonsense news woman with the big brain, the tacky blue mascara and the notable hiney! Naturally, this hiney doesn't sit too well with the Boys!
Anyone who has ever seen a movie can predict the rest of this flimsy plot, and there are probably as many surprises in the story as there are in the average diaper. Where Anchorman succeeds, though, is in its total and complete disregard of self-consciousness in its quest to crack the audience up. From a Cameo-Ridden street fight to a surreal and psychotic Jazz flute solo, to an animated trek through la-la land in lieu of a sex scene, this is the stupidest little movie you're likely to see. And once you accept this fact, it's hard not to laugh. Writers Ferrell and McKay (who also directed) not only spoof newsmen and the seventies, but just about anything they can think of. You're not going to be particularly challenged, but unlike some modern-day farces, you're not going to be faced with much gross out humor and, except for one two-second scene that actually takes place in a bathroom stall, McKay and Ferrell stay out of the Potty!
As funny as this is, it's probably not for all tastes. While Anchorman steers clear of a lot of the repetition and self-congratulatory joke-explanations that an Austin Powers movie uses to excess, Anchorman is more or less a one-trick pony! Toward the third act Anchorman does wear out its welcome just a tad before a very funny finish. You can see that from time to time, Ferrell is as self-absorbed as Burgundy himself. Further, if you've just come out of watching a Shakespeare play, you'll either be happy for the change or completely insulted depending on your tastes. Make no mistake, I can't stress this enough, Anchorman is stupid! It's stupidly stupid stupid! But I love it!
Why? It's all in good fun, and aside from just being a clever comedian, Will Ferrell somehow manages to be a likeable guy. His infusion of his patented "loveable dufus" into Ron Burgundy gives us the self-absorbed maroon moron who misses his own point, and still manages to come off as the smartest guy in the office. It's hard not to root for him, even if you want to hate his serious and narrow-eyed egotism, and childishly emotional wrangling. Applegate manages to play an intelligent, yet somehow still crazily funny counter-point to Burgundy, and trades insults with him with a skillful volley. It's a crack up to see and hear, especially with the news-is-great smiles they both hold!
In short, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is thin on plot and thin on logic, but it's heavy on the laughs! And taken for all with all, this makes it sort of middle of the road. I hate giving such a stupid movie high praise, but it's charming in spite of itself. It's just a great no-brainer, the cheese-sauce without the broccoli! Check it out.
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for Anchorman! You may ask yourself why, oh, why you're watching this dumb movie over and over during its run, but three days later when you're still quoting the funniest lines in the script, you'll more-than-likely be glad you sat through it! Thanks for dropping by, readers. I'll see you in the next reel!