By Vic Holtreman
Short version: This might have made a good 3 minute skit, but there’s not enough here to fill a movie that feels like it’s 4 hours long.
You’re probably familiar with the theory that with comedies, the funniest parts are usually in the trailer, not leaving much unseen when it comes to the film itself.
I’m here to tell you that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy sadly, does not break that rule. Having recently seen the very funny Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, I really was hoping for the best here.
It starts out with a voiceover talking about local news shows and how much weight they carried back in the days before cable. Yes, for some of you reading it may come as a shock, but cable TV did not always exist. There was some promise in the opening, which described the state of affairs back then with just enough tounge-in-cheek to make me think I was in for a witty backhanded salute to the early 70’s (which seems to be when the movie takes place).
At first I wasn’t disappointed, although the most the movie elicited from me (and the audience) was a slight chuckle here and there. I was expecting the early part of the film to be a warm up for the good stuff, but unfortunately from there (with a few exceptions), the film slides into just plain silliness, and from there dumbness.
The jist of the film is the end of the male newsanchor era, with the first woman (Christina Applegate) trying to break into the business, and how the guys behind the newsdesk are fighting it. Christina was actually the bright spot in the film, and whenever she was on screen things improved considerably. The male news team is led by Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and they’re just a bunch of stereotypical characters. You’ve got the ringleader Ron, then there’s the guy who’s a ladies man in his own mind, the tough-guy sportscaster who gives unsubtle hints that he’s in the closet, and then the requisite stupid character (the weatherman, with a self-professed IQ of 48).
We have your basic story of gorgeous, intelligent woman who for some bizarre reason falls in love with egotistical, moronic man. In addition, without exception every male character in this film is portrayed as an idiot. Fred Willard as the station manager shows some bit of intelligence, but that is shot through by the running gag concerning his lack of handling his troublemaker son in Catholic school.
The film gets weirder as it goes on and attempts to pay homage to a number of movies and TV shows, including Planet of the Apes and The Six Million Dollar Man.
Bottom line, Anchorman would have been a funny SNL skit (actually it was, wasn’t it?) and it felt more like 4 hours than 90 minutes long. If I wasn’t going to see another movie afterwards, I probably would have walked out.
If you’re in the mood for a comedy, go check out Dodgeball before it’s gone. Trust me.