Directed by: Adam McKay
Written by: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, David Koechner, Fred Willard
Combining a misogynistic work environment with a woman willing to bust some balls to leave her mark creates this firecracker of a comedy. In the process, it shows the fragility of the male ego and how they truly view women as sexual conquests rather than people. All tongue-in-cheek and one of my favorite comedies.
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) serves as the lead anchor on the #1 cable news station in San Diego and adored by the people of the city. The city loves him so much that his famous catchphrase, “Stay Classy, San Diego” becomes the first words of a baby, go figure. The rest of the crew includes Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell), and Champion Kind (David Koechner) as they coast along in their positions within the team. Corporate then adds a woman to the crew, who commits the biggest sin in any man’s world, being a woman with conviction. This aspiring anchor, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) refuses to cover puff pieces and shows that she can hang with the guys.
Truly a farcical experience, Anchorman transports the audience to the 1970s where men dominated the newsroom and it took someone like Veronica Corningstone to break through and leave their mark. Her injection into this bubble with men like Ron Burgundy creates a dissonance that makes them lose their minds. During her time in the newsroom, Veronica must fight off rampant attempts by the men in the office to use her as their sexual conquest. They all want to be the one that lands a good time with Veronica but she battles it brilliantly. With each advance, she emasculates them to the point where they must retreat with their tails between their legs. Christina Applegate plays this role so well as she conveys the internal struggle she has as a woman in that position, while also displaying the ferocity to succeed in a place working against her. Veronica as a character plays the “straight man” role where she just reacts to all of the zaniness of the other characters around her as they continue to embarrass themselves to prove their manliness to one another.
Each of the misogynist newscasters are portrayed by incredible comedy icons with Will Ferrell leading the bunch as Ron Burgundy. A man so self-absorbed with his image and hair that contributes to his unlikeability, but also a boy-ish nature that makes it hard to hate him. I mean, the guy wears matching pajamas with his dog, Baxter, to bed. Ferrell’s delivery of Burgundy’s lines kills me because I spend most of the time trying to comprehend what must be going on in his head. This may be Ferrell’s greatest performance, as he battles in making Burgundy likable when he tends to be very selfish. Burgundy has his head in the past, but his heart remains in the right place, which makes him easier to root for even when he tends to be problematic.
Then we have Paul Rudd as the sex enthusiast, Brian Fantana, David Koechner as the rampant misogynistic, Champ, and Steve Carell as the ever-innocent, Brick. Each of them has their defining moments in the film where they display their ridiculousness. Whether it be trying on a seducing perfume or professing love to inanimate objects, each of them delivers the goods.
The writing shows itself to be the key to the success of Anchorman. Co-written by the director, Adam McKay, and the lead, Will Ferrell, they craft a plethora of constantly quotable lines from ”I’m in a glass case of emotion” and “Baxter, bark twice if you’re in Milwaukee.” I can drop them in any conversation because they’re genuinely hilarious in the context of the film and sound so ridiculous to anyone unaware of the source. I could spend the rest of the review throwing out quotable lines from the top of my head like, “Do you want to go to the pants party?” or “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.”
Anchorman also shows the fragility of the male ego even amongst themselves as Burgundy’s network has rivals from around the city. They all compete for the ratings and Burgundy always comes out on top. One of the best scenes of the film centers on all of them having a brawl to settle who will last. Even with an assortment of weapons, they all agree that attacking the face and each other’s hair is prohibited. As men who made their careers on television, it remains imperative that they look good even when trying to stab each other.
Not a single dull moment permeates this story and it remains a film I can always flip on and have a laugh as the jokes land on every rewatch. This story asks the audience to buy into this ridiculous world and laugh at men not ready to accept a new world where they may not get all of the opportunities. The biggest joke lies in that reality, where a woman’s presence causes them to react as if they’re going extinct in the industry. As one of my favorite quotes states, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” That sums up these characters and Anchorman handles them in a brilliantly hilarious way. An incredible collection of comedic talent with a collaboration for the ages.