Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carrell, Vince Vaughn
Plot: The Channel 4 news team is rocked by the arrival of a female staff member who threatens their comfortable, chauvinistic way of living.
People have been recommending Anchorman to me for a while now. When I finally sat down to check it out, I have to admit I was very disappointed.
The film takes place in a 70s news station, where Ron Burgundy is the king. He is the coolest, manliest anchorman on air, closely followed by his news team, who are your stereotypical alpha males caught in the trap of fame. Their world is rocked, when the Head of Channel 4 is forced to bring in a female co-anchor. At first, Burgundy falls in love with her, but when Burgundy starts getting in the way of her dreams to become head anchor, the two of them get involved in a feud that could destroy one of their careers.
Don’t get me wrong this is hardly painful to watch. At some points, it can be quite funny. The characters are this film’s strong points. Will Ferrell and Ron Burgundy did not disappoint. He could be one of Ferrell’s greatest creations: the height of male power but at the same time so frustratingly childish that you can’t believe that San Diego looks up to him. The rest of the news crew are just as funny. Paul Rudd goes for broke, not holding anything back as his sexist, womanising Brian Fantana. Chad Koechner is ridiculously hilarious as the macho sports reporter, Champ Kind. And then we have Steve Carrell, who easily becomes everyone’s favourite as the slightly mentally handicapped Brick. The best gags are when these four actors keep adding to a joke, giving a simple gag an unstoppable snowball effect. The laughs just get better and better.
OK, the film aces the characters, but sadly it seems to think that this is enough to make a great comedy. It never really puts these amusing faces into worthwhile situations. It is the kind of script I would expect from a fourth sequel, where the writer in charge doesn’t really understand the chemistry of the original movie. Sure, these actors are giving it their best, but the writers aren’t meeting them halfway (all the more confusing as Will Ferrell is partially writing the script himself). Sure, every now and again, it hints that it is going to deliver a powerhouse scene, but the moments feel like a first draft. Don’t get me wrong, the jokes are funny, but they are cheap and easy gags. You feel guilty for chuckling along.
Also, for a storyline that hints that it is satirising the male image, Adam McKay and Ferrell seem to be celebrating it. Sure, it hints that men are idiots for never giving Veronica her shot at being head anchor, yet it only goes so far with the idea. Veronica only becomes a strong female figure to a point; sadly the writers decide she needs to be hopelessly in love with Ron. When she does get the upper hand and turns the male power onto itself, she is wracked with guilt about it. It’s not Applegate’s fault; the script never gives Veronica the chance to express the female voice. I think the main problem with Anchorman is that everyone is that little bit too in love with Ron Burgundy.
So the million dollar question: am I excited for the sequel this December? Yes, I think I am. As I said, there are good characters and ideas, the script falls short. If there has been a suitable amount of thought put into the comeback, then I don’t see why it can’t work. Dare I say it, I have high hopes for it. The film doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel, which usually means that this film is only happening, because inspiration has struck. Burgundy has one more chance to win me over it seems.
However, the fight scene in the alleyway between the news teams is nothing short of genius.
Final Verdict: Quite frankly, the writers love the characters too much to really push them. Some good ideas but they never reach their potential.