There are about three true comic stars today, entertainers whose
involvement in a movie ensures great box office results: Jim
Carrey, Adam Sandler and now Will Ferrell. This is the man who
powered a manic Christmas comedy, “Elf,” over the final
chapter of the “Matrix” trilogy. After the success of
that movie, studios resurrected “Anchorman” and have
greenlit anything they could fit Ferrell in. There will be no
dearth of him on-screen in the near future.

Film Reviews
Step into my office, baby. (Courtesy of DreamWorks)

“Anchorman” brings us back to sunny San Diego in the
1970s. It was a simpler era, a time when political correctness was
unheard of and progressive ideas such as workplace diversity were
still a twinkle in a liberal’s eye. Men ruled local
newsrooms, and the post-broadcast after-parties had more groupies
than Touchdown’s after a Saturday home game. Ron Burgundy
(Will Ferrell, “Old School”), lead anchor of San
Diego’s top-rated newscast, rules this newsroom with his
motley crew at his side. Things are good. But the addition of
Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate, “Married with
Children”) to the newsroom breaks up the network’s
boys’ club mentality.

The dark satire of “Network” dismantled television
news perfectly in 1976, but its tone was deathly serious. With
“Anchorman,” director Adam McKay (“Saturday Night
Live”) has created a lighthearted parody that still skewers
the plastered smiles, helmet hair and fake seriousness of network
news. “Anchorman” takes playful and easy shots, mocking
cheesy ’70s culture: Everyone has Burt Reynolds mustaches and
polyester suits and winks at the audience knowingly.

Many of Ferrell’s comedy contemporaries make cameos
–– Jack Black (“School of Rock”) makes a
ridiculous appearance as a biker and Ben Stiller
(“Dodgeball”) plays the rival at the Spanish language
news station. Vince Vaughn (“Dodgeball”) has a larger
role as the number two-rated newsman with a burning jealousy of
Farrell’s character. Former “The Daily Show”
faux-reporter Steve Carell (“Bruce Almighty”) plays
mentally handicapped news anchor and comes as close as any cast
member to stealing scenes from Ferrell’s imposing comic
presence.

Despite tertiary characters’ goofy antics,
“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is all about
Will Ferrell. The man is a comic force, and with
“Anchorman,” he has established a spot for himself in
the upper echelon of actor-comedians. Unfortunately, when the
camera is off of Ferrell and the audience is supposed to care about
“plot,” there simply isn’t one. Applegate’s
struggle as a trailblazing career woman is not an easy vehicle for
comedy, and she comes off as stiff playing opposite Ferrell.

Just as Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy dominates
“Anchorman”’s newsroom, Ferrell dominates
“Anchorman.” His talents behind the camera also
contributed to the film’s success; he shares writing credits
with director McKay. But with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps
that wasn’t the best outlet for Ferrell’s brand of
comedy: It’s obvious that improvisation was responsible for
the rapid-fire joke machine that is “Anchorman,” and
when the chemistry between actors hits right, the film is pure
hilarity.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars.

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