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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Melissa Moseley)

photo caption:
SAN DIEGO'S MOST WELL KNOWN ANCHORMAN: Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) poses heroically and self importantly before his television station's helicopter.
end caption.


Will Ferrell Falls Flat as Seventies TV "Anchorman"

Review by Kam Williams

There was a time, not very long ago, when many people, present company included, considered Will Ferrell the kiss of death for a picture. The Saturday Night Live (SNL) alum's resumé is littered with embarrassing outings like A Night at the Roxbury, Dick, Superstar, Drowning Mona, The Ladies Man, Boat Trip, Zoolander, The Suburbans, The Thin Pink Line, and Men Seeking Women, four of which landed on this critic's Annual 10 Worst List.

In 2003, Ferrell's fortune changed with the release of Old School and Elf, two of the funniest films of the year. He followed those hits with an uncredited appearance in the successful screen adaptation of Starsky & Hutch.

Unfortunately, Anchorman, set in San Diego in the 70s, represents a regression for the television comic. Will assumes the title role of Ron Burgundy, the self-absorbed anchorman on the highest-rated news team in the city. Christina Applegate, best known for her 10-year run as Kelly Bundy on TV's Married ... with Children, co-stars as Veronica Corningstone, the ambitious, new addition to the reporting team who threatens to upset the all-male network's apple cart.

The film marks the debut of Adam McKay as director, who served as SNL's head writer from 1997 through 2001. McKay and Ferrell collaborated on the script, an infantile exercise in lowbrow humor, which reflects the present state of gross-out humor more than any sensibilities associated with the 70s.

Many men certainly resisted the attempt by women to break through the glass ceiling, but somehow I doubt that the resistance came in such a crude form. When not clumsily propositioning the attractive newcomer or making lewd comments about her anatomy, Burgundy is given to hurling sophomoric insults at her.

Anchorman comes off as a rudderless, overextended improvised skit that is somehow allowed to stretch on for an unbearable 90 minutes.

The jokes in this over-the-top comedy are mostly of the misogynistic, ethnic, and flatulence variety. The plot is driven by a romance rendered unconvincing by the insults spewed in the direction of the object of the hero¹s affection. The insufferable Burgundy is such a ridiculous character that one is reduced to either cackling or cringing at the offensive caricature.

Ostensibly modeled on the egomaniacal Ted Baxter of the old Mary Tyler Moore TV series, this adventure's protagonist is less comical, less endearing, and generally grates on the nerves.

Anchorman isn't saved by the presence of a talented cast which features Fred Willard and cameos by Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins, and Stephen Root. You know you're in trouble, when the film's biggest laugh is a non-sequitor about President Bush which comes during the closing credits.

Fair (one star). PG-13 for sexual and crude humor, profanity and slapstick violence.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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