U.S. Release Date: July 9, 2004
Distributor: DreamWorks
Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Adam McKay
Producer: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson (executive), David O. Russell (executive)
Composer: Alex Wurman
Cast: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Vince Vaughn, Tim Robbins (Cameo), Luke Wilson (Cameo), Jack Black (Cameo), Ben Stiller (Cameo), Seth Rogen
Running Time: 1 hour and 31 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sexual humor, language and comic violence)

Sweet and Absurd
by C.A. Wolski

Like Will Ferrell's last vehicle Elf, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is light on plot and heavy on laughs, delivering a comic punch that is at once silly, sweet and absurd.

Ferrell stars as top-rated San Diego news anchor Ron Burgundy, leader of the goofy, booze drenched crew at Channel 4 during an undetermined time in the 1970's. All is well for Burgundy and his buddies: spot reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). The only trouble the guys have is with their rivals like the No. 2 rated Channel 9 team led by Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn). Indeed all is right with the world until one day women's lib catches up with the cheerfully Neanderthal boys club with the arrival of Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who has designs on Burgundy's anchor seat.

Needless to say, in the best comedic tradition, Burgundy falls helplessly in love with Corningstone, wooing her with his fractured knowledge of San Diego (including a surprising German translation of its name), his ability to play a mean jazz flute and his overwhelming charisma. In no time, the two go to "Pleasure Town" and Burgundy is declaring his love for the new reporter to anyone who will listen. Again, all is right with the world until a tragedy strikes, and Burgundy finds himself at first sharing his anchor position with Corningstone and then being fired after their ensuing rivalry gets out of control.

The real joy in Anchorman isn't the love story (which is far from a throwaway bit). It's the interaction between Ferrell and his tight-knit news team in their pursuit of the endless party. The movie is at its comic best when the guys are bondingófrom singing "Afternoon Delight" together to understand love to rumbling with the town's other news crews (the best scene in the movie, filled with several unexpected cameos).

Ferrell is the anchor holding this movie together. His ability to mix oblivious confidence and painful self-realization together keeps Burgundy from being a parody or obnoxious. There's little doubt why Burgundy is the top-rated anchorman in this comic-fueled San Diego where the biggest story of the year is the birth of a baby panda. And this leads to Ferrell's other contribution, the script. Co-written with director Adam McKay, Ferrell delivers a product that may be far from perfect, but is awfully fun to watch. Even several juvenile bitsóthe guys' individual attempts at trying to make a move on Corningstone, Burgundy making numerous crank calls to her and a fistfight the two have laterówork mainly because Ferrell and McKay just let them play out in a twisted yet natural way. It's at times crude, but it works.

The rest of the cast, including the lovely Applegate, are obviously having a great time and, like Ferrell, are able to make their idiotic characters comic and lovable at the same time. Koechler's closeted Champ Kind is probably the best, albeit loudest, of the supporting cast, while Fred Willard as the station manager also stands out with his several Bob Newhart-esque phone bits.

The funniest movie of the summer, Anchorman oozes with joyous comic mayhem.

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