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’
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
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.
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
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
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
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