The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Reviewed by Mike Clark
BIG 13 Webmaster
I refer to "Anchorman:
The Legend of Ron Burgundy" as "Big 13, The Motion
Picture," because it's set in a television station during the
mid-seventies, a golden era of broadcasting before cable and the internet entered the picture and
broke the monopoly of the networks, and hence affiliates, in local markets.
The similarity between "Anchorman" and BIG 13 ends there.
|"Anchorman" was released in 2004 and stars Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, San Diego's #1 rated newsman. Burgundy's a scotch-loving womanizer whose spot at the top of the ratings is threatened when beautiful, smart Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the news team.
The story is the age-old battle of the
sexes as "Anchorman's" male staff reacts like stuck pigs when women
intrude in their newsroom turf. It's
a great concept for a movie and while "Anchorman"
does generate some pretty good laughs, the comedy falls short in the execution
due to a lack of reality in plotting and characterization.
Blending the styles of "Best of
and "There's Something About Mary."
this lightweight romantic comedy written by Ferrell and Adam McKay chose
to make Burgundy, Corningstone, and the people at the TV station caricatures. The males are all
14-year-olds at heart without a trace of self-awareness.
Don't expect any depth of feeling when anchorman meets, loses, and gets co-anchor again at the end.
|Part of problem is the backward plotting. In the film's opening
moments, feminist Corningstone falls hard for Burgundy after he wows her with his
spiffy jazz flute set at a San Diego nightclub.
For a mid-70's career woman working in the shadow of the E.R.A., this
happens waaaay too easy and too soon to Applegate's character, robbing the picture of any romantic tension.
There's some funny scenes involving the way Veronica is tortured on and
off-camera by her insecure co-workers, but they come a little late in the
Over-the-top scenes that veer from reality
include a knock down, drag-out newsroom fight between Burgundy and Corningstone
(ever been brained with one of those old, heavy I.B.M. Selectric typewriters?)
and a "West Side Story" gang-fight between Burgundy's team and the
news teams from San Diego's other TV stations.
Knives, spears, guns, and grenades are used in the free for all that
includes cameos by Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins, and Ben Stiller.
Pet lovers should beware of a shocking, out-of-place scene where
Burgundy's cute dog is booted off the Coronado bridge by an enraged biker (Jack
It's an upsetting, unfunny moment that doesn't belong in the movie, even
though the pooch returns later in the film to save Burgundy's life. It
took a few minutes for the audience I was with to recover and resume enjoying
The mechanics of 1970's news production are
glossed over, which is too bad since there is plenty of humor to be mined from
the process (BIG 13 veterans can attest to that!).
There are some nice satiric touches involving the news program's opening
as Burgundy's team swagger towards the camera with big, toothy grins.
Burgundy's news stories are pretty funny too, centering on pregnant
pandas at the San Diego Zoo and water-skiing squirrels.
What doesn't wash is the use of "R" rated language on the air,
which would have gotten Burgundy booted off the air long before he accidentally
uses the "F" word as the result of TelePrompTer sabotage.
In local markets of the time, most anchors
were involved in reporting and writing their stories, but Burgundy's prep
consists only of extensive makeup and extreme vocal exercises right down to air
time. ENG trucks and video camera
equipment are in regular use in "Anchorman" despite the fact that many
markets were still using 16mm newsfilm and just entering the era of live
remotes. Apparently, Burgundy's
station can only afford one 3/4" U-matic VTR, and when Corningstone wants
to use it Burgundy hogs the machine to review his local Emmy acceptance speech,
leads to the previously mentioned sockfest.
Studio equipment was correctly portrayed by RCA TK-44 cameras, which is
right for the time as were the leisure suits, leather
vests, moustaches and sideburns sported by the cast.
"Anchorman's" supporting cast is
top notch, and you'll enjoy the antics of Burgundy's dimwitted weatherman
("I once ate asbestos…they told me it was cotton candy") portrayed by
"The 40 Year-Old Virgin" Steve Carell. Also on tap are a sports reporter
from the deepest part of Texas, and a Geraldo Rivera-style investigative
reporter trying in vain to unseat Corningstone.
Fred Willard is terrific as the station's news director.
I would like to see this same idea written
and directed by the creator of "When Harry Met Sally," Nora Ephron.
Delaying the romance while giving the characters some reality and depth,
"Anchorman" could have addressed the issues of women in the
workplace, male pride, broadcast news, and romance with greater comedic impact.
All said, if you like broadcasting (or you wouldn't be visiting BIG 13!) you'll find more than a few good laughs with "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," which did excellent box office and is available on DVD.
Here's the official "Anchorman"
All photos (C) 2004 DreamWorks