Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

For those convinced local TV news long ago graduated from parody to self-parody, pic nevertheless wrings ample laughs from that milieu and the big-haired 1970s. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay generate enough inspired lunacy to provide at times jaw-droppingly bizarre summer fun. Given current appetite for zanier comedies, forecast should be sunny.

Ron Burgundy - Will Ferrell Veronica Corningstone - Christina Applegate Brian Fantana - Paul Rudd Brick Tamland - Steve Carell Champ Kind - David Koechner Ed Harken - Fred Willard Garth Holliday - Chris Parnell

For those convinced local TV news long ago graduated from parody to self-parody, “Anchorman” nevertheless wrings ample laughs from that milieu and the big-haired 1970s, fast becoming our most-lampooned decade. Although at times pic feels like an extended “Saturday Night Live” sketch from the show’s invariably flabby last half-hour, collaborators Will Ferrell and Adam McKay generate enough inspired lunacy to sail past the arid stretches and provide a welcome splash of breezy, at times jaw-droppingly bizarre summer fun. Given the current appetite for zanier comedies such as “DodgeBall,” the box office forecast should be as sunny as a day in San Diego.

Still a somewhat unlikely figure to sustain a film, “Elf” notwithstanding, Ferrell has seized on a clever concept rife with possibilities — namely, women breaking the glass ceiling in male-dominated TV news during the ’70s — and smartly surrounded himself with a topnotch cast.

Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, San Diego’s reigning anchor god, presented as a more libidinous take on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s” Ted Baxter. Life is good for Ron and his news team — sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner), field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) — one long pool party of booze, broads and sweeps victories.

Then along comes the ambitious Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), invading and eventually upending their perfect little world. Even the newscast’s producer, Ed (the reliable, if predictable, Fred Willard), titters at Veronica behind her back, assigning her inane stories like a cat costume contest.

Despite her protestations about maintaining professional decorum, Veronica and Ron fall for each other. Yet when an unforeseen (and hilarious) event detains Ron, Veronica is forced to fill in for him, inevitably becoming an overnight smash and prompting Ed to install her as co-anchor, much to the chauvinistic chagrin of Ron and his posse.

Former “SNL” head writer Adam McKay makes his feature directing and writing debut (teaming on the script with Ferrell), and they’ve peppered the action with outlandish flights of fancy, from an animated dream sequence to a melee among competing news teams. (The scene allows for several of the film’s uncredited cameos by the likes of Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson, though for the most part they pay off only in a momentary giggle when the actors first appear.)

Not all of the broader shtick works, but some of it proves explosively funny — especially Carell (hilarious on “The Daily Show” but often underutilized elsewhere) as the brain-dead weather dude, who in direct-to-camera asides confesses to having “an IQ of 48,” and Koechner as the sexually conflicted sportscaster.

Ferrell unleashes any number of giddy moments as well, from Burgundy’s absolute insistence on regaling Veronica with bogus facts to his strange ejaculations (“By the beard of Zeus!”), which receive an even fuller airing during the outtakes that accompany the closing credits.

Pic also adds impeccable little touches that capture the period, from an impromptu chorus of “Afternoon Delight” to the moustaches, sideburns and deafeningly loud jackets that only slightly exaggerate the “Eyewitness News” formula of that era. In that sense, “Anchorman” does a better job spoofing the ’70s than many recent TV-inspired knockoffs that have tried as much, tonally resembling a bawdier version of “The Brady Bunch” films more than anything else.

As an aside, a handful of TV news people, including Bill Kurtis and KNBC-TV weatherman Fritz Coleman, are acknowledged in the credits “for their insight into the world of broadcast journalism.” Local TV outlets are already having a ball with “Anchorman,” yet in terms of Burgundy’s dead-behind-the-eyes look while reading off a TelePrompTer, that might be the one group for which all this merriment strikes just a bit too close to home.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Production: A DreamWorks Pictures release of an Apatow production. Produced by Judd Apatow. Executive producers, Shauna Robertson, David O. Russell. Co-producer, David Householter. Directed by Adam McKay. Screenplay, Will Ferrell, McKay.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Thomas Ackerman; editor, Brent White; music, Alex Wurman; production designer, Clayton R. Hartley; art director, Virginia Randolph-Weaver; set decorator, Jan Pascale; costume designer, Debra McGuire; sound (DTS/SDDS/Dolby Digital), Jim Stuebe; assistant director, Matt Rebenkoff; second unit director, Rick Avery; stunt coordinator, Avery; animation sequence by Graham Morris Animation; casting, Juel Bestrop, Jeanne McCarthy, Blythe Cappello. Reviewed at the Mann Chinese Theater, Los Angeles, June 28, 2004. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Ron Burgundy - Will Ferrell Veronica Corningstone - Christina Applegate Brian Fantana - Paul Rudd Brick Tamland - Steve Carell Champ Kind - David Koechner Ed Harken - Fred Willard Garth Holliday - Chris Parnell

More Film

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Roars Overseas With Mighty $269 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” certainly felt the love this weekend, generating $269 million at the international box office. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the classic Disney cartoon now holds the eighth-biggest debut of all time overseas, even with China opening last weekend. Combined with a stellar $185 million start in North America, “The Lion King” [...]

  • Scarlett JohanssonMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Scarlett Johansson Reveals What We'll Learn About Black Widow in Stand-Alone Movie

    Scarlett Johansson can finally talk about her upcoming “Black Widow” movie. While she can’t divulge spoilers, she let out a big sigh of relief after the film was officially announced on Saturday during the Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con. “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” the Oscar nominee told Variety. “Black Widow” is [...]

  • The Lion King Box Office

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Rules With $185 Million Debut

    Simba and Mufasa reigned supreme this weekend as Disney’s “The Lion King” dominated box office charts. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the animated classic collected a massive $185 million from 4,756 North American theaters during its first three days of release. In yet another win for Disney, the movie landed the best domestic launch for [...]

  • Creative-Producers-Indaba-Cover-Image-1920x1080-px-2

    Realness, EAVE, IFFR, Sundance Launch African Producers Network

    DURBAN–South Africa’s Realness Institute, EAVE, the Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Sundance Institute are joining forces to create the Creative Producers Indaba, a professional training program designed to support emerging African producers. Inspired by initiatives such as the EAVE Producers Workshop and Sundance’s Creative Producing, the program will bring together 15 participants to develop [...]

  • BOTM-Eve-Viper-Gang

    Director Angus Gibson: My Audience is ‘Young, Black South Africans’

    DURBAN–Sophiatown, 1958. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, as the apartheid police prepare to demolish the community at the heart of black South African cultural and intellectual life, a notorious gang leader is determined to make a last stand. Resisting the forced evictions that will transport the residents of Sophiatown to a desolate township miles away, [...]

  • marvel

    Marvel Phase 4 Plan Revealed, But Comic-Con’s Big Winner is Disney Plus

    In a triumphant return to the San Diego Comic-Con main stage, leadership at Marvel Studios managed some splashy surprises and showed off risky creative bets for the next two years of content coming from the superhero operation. But the biggest takeaway from the Saturday presentation inside Hall H was how important Marvel will make Disney [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content