Anchorman fans are recognisable by their sneaking admiration for chauvinistic news anchormen from the 1970’s and by their love of lamp. The 2004 cult comedy launched the stratospheric careers of Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and Steve Carell, making them household names in the process. The unlikely story of mayhem and madness involves the introduction of Veronica Corningstone (the fantastic Christina Applegate), the first female anchor, to the Channel 6 news team in San Diego. The subsequent fall-out forms the basis for the rest of the movie, but plot is not what’s important. What drives this film is the laughs and the endlessly quotable dialogue, line after absurd line.
The star-making performance from Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy isn’t even the best thing about this film – the entire cast is just perfect. Steve Carell as Brick Tamland, dopey weatherman and king of the non-sequitur, shines in every scene. Champ Kind, sports reporter (played by David Koechner), provides a mean-spirited charm with an emotional centre that is surprising. Paul Rudd, as Bryan Fantana, shows an impressive comedic side that is beyond the usual rom-com drivel that he is usually involved with, and results in some of his funniest ever scenes.
Another thing that makes this film feel so authentic is the musical score. It is ripe to the point of collapse with funk and soul, placing the film squarely in the 1970’s. It doesn’t make a constant show of its period setting – there’s no cultural references aside from the odd sports joke, perhaps to better help the audience to buy into the film – but it is something that is ever-present throughout the film, through its wardrobe and set dressing.
For the first-time viewer, this film is impossible to predict. Every scene throws something at the audience that they absolutely could not have seen coming – a dog speaking Spanish? An impromptu musical number? And, the funniest scene in the entire movie, a massive battle-royale style fight between all of the San Diego news teams? Who could have predicted these things, and who could have predicted that they would prove to be so funny? Who knew that the world of newscasting in the 1970’s would provide such a mine of comedic material? One man did, Will Ferrell, and for that we should all be thankful.
Best line: There are so, so many, but the best may just be ‘You’re a smelly pirate hooker.’