A/V Room









Anchorman - Preview & US reaction

Preview by: Jack Foley

AFTER promising turns in Old School and Elf, Will Ferrell continues his rise to A-list comic status with Anchorman, another comedy that appears to be tailor-made for his own brand of humour.

Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, the top-rated anchorman in San Diego in the ‘70s, who is forced to take stock of his position when feminism comes crashing into the newsroom, in the form of ambitious newswoman, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate).

Ron is willing to play along at first, so long as Veronica stays in her place, covering cat fashion shows, cooking, and other ‘female’ interests.

But when Veronica refuses to settle for being eye candy and steps behind the news desk, it’s more than a battle between two perfectly coiffed anchor-persons…it’s war.

Anchorman proved another massive success for Ferrell when it was released earlier this year, holding off some fairly strong competition to open strongly.

The idea for a comedic take on a woman invading the all-male bastion of the news desk, in the 1970s, was inspired by a decidedly more serious documentary on the women who actually broke that glass ceiling.

Ferrell was watching the documentary, which featured interviews with several anchormen of the 1970s, and found some of the interviews with the newsmen to be unintentionally funny.
He immediately contacted his former Saturday Night Live colleague and writing partner, Adam McKay, with an idea for the comedy.

And rumour has it that the duo produced so much material (much of it unused) that a second DVD is to be put out, entitled Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, at the time of the DVD release.

The film co-stars former Friends co-star, Paul Rudd (also of The Shape of Things and The Cider House Rules), as well as Steve Carell (who impressed as a rival news-reader alongside Jim Carrey, in Bruce Almighty), David Koechner and Fred Willard.

The film had the dubious distinction of opening after Spider-Man 2, in America, where it still managed a hugely respectable $28m.during its opening weekend, easily fending off the challenge posed by Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, King Arthur, which opened with $15m.

It opens in the UK on September 10.

US reaction

Critics in America mostly warmed to the chauvinistic charms of Ferrell and co, hailing it as a genuinely funny movie.

The New York Times, for instance, noted that ‘it is not as maniacally uninhibited as Old School, or as dementedly lovable as Elf, but its cheerful dumbness is hard to resist’.

While the Chicago Tribune found it to be ‘a cute, silly, likeable movie without much weight or intensity, but it's also pretty funny’.

The Washington Post found it to be ‘wonderfully silly all the time’, while the Philadelphia Inquirer described it as ‘an engagingly knuckle-headed comic vehicle for former Saturday Night Live trouper, Will Ferrell’.

Rolling Stone praised it for the way in which it ‘slaps a goofy smile on your face’.

And USA Today wrote: "That he can make his anchorman chauvinistic, deluded and ridiculous but still manage to give him some humanity is testimony to Ferrell's comic talents."

On a slightly more cautious note was Village Voice, which opined that ‘as parody, it's toothless and often smug, but as random Ferrellspeak generator, it has its delights’.

While the New York Post stated that ‘Ferrell is funny spouting his weird stream-of-consciousness rants, but too often the plot leaves him hanging and he resorts to just Yelling Really Loud’.

The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, felt that it is ‘a comic idea that never finds the comic wellspring or anything resembling a sure source for laughs’.

Entertainment Weekly liked it even less, stating that ‘for a comedy set during the formative era of happy-talk news, Anchorman doesn't do enough to tweak the on-camera phoniness of dum-dum local journalism’.

But the Hollywood Reporter enthused that ‘proving that even infantile humour can be funny, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy does make you laugh even if you hate yourself for doing so’.

And the Los Angeles Times opined that ‘what takes the whole thing pleasurably over the top, turning a goof into a total gas, is the film's pitch-perfect absurdist comedy and warmth’.

The Boston Globe also liked it, writing: "Sloppy, crude, pursuing the most far-flung tangents in hopes of a laugh, Anchorman still gave me more stupid giggles than I’d care to admit if I weren’t paid to’.

The final word, however, goes to Newsday, which concluded that ‘Ron may be an idiot, but Anchorman is no dope’.

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