Comedian Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy, the highest rated news anchorman in San Diego. Set in the sexist 1970s, Ron believes that women have their place and being a news anchor for the network is not one of them. So Ron’s world is turned upside down with the appearance of young newswoman Veronica (Christina Applegate) who proves that beauty and brains can exist in the same package.
Anchorman is actually quite an interesting satire of early 1970s’ TV newsrooms. It has the familiarity of the great hair, suits and polo neck jumpers. The humour is, most of the time, spot on but sadly it is let down by some overblown moments. The centre of the story is the threat felt by a male dominated world through the introduction of a female rival. Ron, along with his other news teammates Brian Fantana, Champ Kind and the bizarrely retarded weatherman Brick Tamland, are a boys’ gang in every sense. This appears to be the same for the other rival news teams and when they clash it is like gang-fights on the school playground, literally! The sexist attitude towards females is also pretty childish such as stating that their periods attract bears or even Ron threatening to punch Veronica in the ovary.
Ron, the man’s man, is an odd creature. Immaculately dressed, a scotch drinker and a meat eater, he seems for the most part pretty stupid. His main weakness is the autocue from which he reads the news; Ron will read whatever is printed there without thinking. This of course provides a devastating avenue for Veronica to attack back. Anchorman is really quite funny in places; the 1970s’ setting is spot on and is brought together perfectly when the gang have an impromptu singing of Afternoon Delight. However it is the uncontrolled nature of some comedy elements that lets it down. Having been born from the American Saturday Night Live show, the film is very much in that style of humour; hence some parts of the movie do not exactly translate across the Atlantic as well as others. When the schoolyard scraps between rival news-teams escalates into a full-scale gladiatorial arena battle, with hacked limbs and apparent killings, it is really an unnecessary step too far. Essentially it is possible to imagine the news teams acting like kids and giving each other a bloody nose, but when the horse riding and the trident throwing starts, the mind leans towards to the first available ‘Yeah whatever!’
Additionally the film has so many famous faces doing cameos; the tagline should have been ‘Word up’. Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, Jack Black and others pop up in various disguises with varying degrees of success. Even though the story is for the most part predictable and the humour is at times off the mark, Anchorman is actually worth a look, for the great setting, the strange characters and some of the bizarre dialogue that will tease more than few chuckles from the audience. Plus, while Ron Burgundy is no Austin Powers, he really has to be seen to be believed.
Extras on the disc include audio commentary from director Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, deleted scenes, an inside the-making-of featurette and a blooper reel. Also there is a music video of Afternoon Delight with a hilarious intro where Ron Burgundy promises to fight anyone who does not think it is the best song ever.