9 July 2004 | lawprof
It's Summertime: Lighten Up and Laugh Without Guilt: No Thinking Necessary
The most devoted cineastes and the average hoi polloi moviegoers both need to kick back and laugh, without probing or analysis, at a goofball, outrageously funny comedy with zero depth. And that's exactly what director Adam McKay (also co-writer with star Will Ferrell) provides in "Anchorman." A very warm summer day, like today, was perfect for the quick gags and physical comedy of this nutty flick. Maybe it's even more of a relief for us folks who are still arguing with each other about "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Control Room," documentaries that make us confront a difficult present and a tenuous future.
Will Ferrell is TV news anchor Ron Burgundy in 1970s San Diego. This is Pre-B.W. (Barbara Walters), a dark age when men reported the news almost exclusively. Burgundy, shallow and self-absorbed without redemption, chases skirts and is so genuinely stupid he reads ANYTHING on the teleprompter. His news crew consists of adulators and one misfit, Brick Tamland, played with unremitting mental blankness by Steve Carrell. Burgundy's dog is a delight, a pooch who can bark in a few languages.
The "Men's Club" is jolted by the station honcho's decision to add a woman to the newsroom, largely to appease the network satraps. He says it's necessary in the interests of "diversity," a word one staff member doesn't even understand. Enter pretty but tough Veronica Corningstone, Christina Applegate. Applegate makes what really is a tough comedic role work completely.
A misadventure by Burgundy results in Veronica's pinch-hitting chance to anchor the evening news. Veronica scores big time. She and Ron are already lovers and she expects him to be thrilled that his absence was her big break. No way and the rest of the film is Ron's Revenge and Veronica's Counterattack.
A subplot is the rivalry between Ron and his crew and the mobile news gatherers of competing stations. This ends in a donnybrook reminiscent of the silent film era having no rhyme or reason. The other stations' combatants are led by Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins. Robbins, one of the most intelligent and versatile personalities in film and stage today, should be watched closely. He almost loses his composure acting the zany script. Even Jack Black makes it into the flick as a dedicated junkie.
Don't miss the outtakes as the end credits role, especially Ferrell's last comment on what the movie really is.
Pure summer fun-laugh, be happy.