This movie probably sets a record for the most amount of footage shown in the trailer that wasn't used in the actual movie. The funniest parts in the first trailer just weren't in the movie or they weren't used as well as it was in the trailer. This is too bad, because the movie wasn't nearly as good as I thought it'd be and I don't know why they cut these funny parts out. Sure, there are some really funny parts here and there, but still, this movie was a major disappointment.
Anchorman starts off with a narrator setting the scene of the 1970s San Diego in slightly humorous fashion. Then we get to the legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and it's made clear that his lofty status as a beloved anchorman has inflated his ego. He doesn't really care about journalism and appears to only be interested in the gig because he gets to be on television. When serious journalist Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) comes to town, hungry for Burgundy's job that would make her the first female anchor in America, Burgundy must struggle with his overwhelming desire for her while trying to keep his job.
Will Ferrell was just hillarious in basically every skit he performed in on Saturday Night Live. I was really looking forward to this flick because Ferrell co-wrote with an SNL writer-director Adam McKay, who also directed Anchorman. I thought that this SNL magic would convert nicely to film, but a lot of the jokes here were just way too forced, which we saw in parts of Old School. He can be naturally funny all the time, but it seems like he doesn't know where to stop. A lot of his jokes just go way too far, and it seems like McKay just lets him go because he think something even funnier might come out of it. Sorry folks, but it just doesn't. Don't get me wrong, most of Ferrell's work is immensely funny here, but a lot of it just goes too far, past any humor that might have come out of it had he stopped earlier.
There were some great cameos and smaller roles here from Ferrell's recent running buddies, Luke Wilson and the always "money" Vince Vaughn, and some more from guys you wouldn't expect here: Jack Black and Tim Robbins. It was kind of like Austin Powers in Goldmember where you never know who's going to show up next, and the scene they were all in, a battle royale between all the news crews in San Diego, was executed rather nicely.
Ferrell does turn in a solid performance here, even though he does go too far sometimes. But he fits this role so perfectly, and with this and Elf under his belt, he has now solidified himself as a bonafide comedic leading man in Hollywood. He does need some work on restraint, but he is a true comedic talent that will keep us laughing for years to come. The rest of his "news team" however, just don't do as well. Paul Rudd, who has a history of playing the laid-back guy, just doesn't fit here at all as the boisterous investigative reporter Brian Fantana. Steve Carell, who has a history of hilarity, is probably the best of the supporting "news team" as the slightly retarded weatherman Brick Tamland, but a lot of his shtick falls flat as well. David Koechner, who has a history of annoying the crap out of me, gives another worthless performance as sports specialist, Champ Kind. Christina Applegate, who has a history of being super-hot, gives an O.K. performance here, but she looks better than she acts. Fred Willard is pretty good here as well, as the station head Ed Harken, but I was really dissapointed that they didn't use Chris Parnell, one of the best performers on SNL, as much as they should have.
The script by Ferrell and McKay is probably better than it seems from the movie, because it really seems like a lot of Ferrell's lines were improv-ed to death. There are some really funny bits here, but it's not as consistently funny as it should've been. The story arc here is pretty solid, with a pretty good ending, and there was a lot of nice subtle humor. There is one part though, that isn't subtle at all that will both nearly shock you and make you laugh wildly. The script didn't seem to be the problem, but the way that it seemed like they deviated and improvised was a little bothersome.
McKay, making his feature directorial debut, shows promise as a comedic helmer, but his direction here was merely average. There were a lot of parts that were just unnecessary, which surprised me that they kept those parts and cut out the funny parts from the trailer. We'll have to see if McKay improves with his next project, Tallaedga Nights.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a movie about a news crew where presentation trumps information. It's good for a few laughs, sure, but not nearly as many as you'd expect in this heavily forced, sporadically funny movie.