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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Anchorman is one of the most successful and iconic comedies to be released in the past decade. There's a part of me that is still surprised by how successful it's become but it's undeniable that the film has a certain charm that makes it work more than most comedies produced in the past decade or so of the genre. The entire film harkens back to a lot of great comedies from the 80's and it does so remarkably well with a jubilant over-the-top approach that makes fun of some of the stereotypes and dated-culture aspects of the 1970's.
The story concept revolves around a local TV news anchorman named Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) who is egotistical, arrogant, sexist, and narcissistic news anchor for San Diego's #1 broadcast news source. The film primarily revolves around Burgundy as the station's main anchor (and it spends a lot of time of his follies) while introducing Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) as an ambitious and up-and-coming news-anchor who wants to work within the station.
The station also has several other employees who all look up to and admire Ron Burgundy while working with him: Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), and Champ (David Koechner). Brian has an over-the-top idea on how stylish, desirable, and 'cool' he is (which no doubt helps him as a field reporter for the station). Brick is the weatherman. He is the nicest person on the team but he has an IQ of 48, and doesn't always understand what the rest of the group is doing. He is the most innocent of the team. Champ is the sportscaster and he seems to possibly be the most chauvinistic member of the group, but his apparent feelings for Burgundy (which seem a bit... obsessive?) seem to suggest he might be a closeted homosexual. This is the team of Burgundiers. They go together like a pack of wolves. Or dogs. (I don't know.)
The storyline often revolves around the way in which Veronica persists to succeed at the network in following her dream to be a news anchor despite the sexism in the workplace and the advances by most of her male coworkers. After many attempts made by Burgundy to attract Veronica the two eventually wind up dating before a breakup and feud happens over her joining the team as co-anchor. This storyline contaisn social satire and is also demonsrative of a romantic heart to the film as the story unravels about Ron and Veronica in a way that pins a romantic element to the proceedings.
The film goes for a lot of humor based around the senseless sexism of the 1970's workplace and news-stations, showing the ridiculousness of the situation. In one hilariously timed scene placed early in Anchorman, everyone in the news-team is shouting out angry tirades about Veronica joining the team and Brick jumps into the mix with: "I don't know what we're yelling about: LOUD NOISES!" These kinds of comedic moments work as social commentary about the seventies culture in the workplace while being funny at the same time.
The storyline of Anchorman also taps into the feuding news-stations with a sub-plot involving the "gang" of the various news teams, when Burgundy and company goes up against rivals in their field. Burgundy's biggest rival happens to be Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn), who leads a competing news team against Burgundy's. They quarrel over the fact Mantooth's station always comes in second place in the ratings. This leads to one of the best sequences in the entire film as a gigantic news-station brawl occurs which is jubilantly over-the-top and ridiculous: it almost is like a mini-film extravaganza featuring hilarious cameos by Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, and Luke Wilson as other anchormen.
Will Ferrell and the rest of the comedians who comprise the cast of Anchorman put forth some of the most quoted moments in comedy. This is one of the ways in which this film has showed the most success. It has truly entered into popular culture as one of the most loved comedies of the past decade with it becoming one of the most quoted films around. There was an abundance of catchphrase like moments in the film which became quite popular after its release and this has remained one of the truest indicators of the film's legacy success. Here is a sampling of some famous quotes from Anchorman:
"I'm Kind of a Big Deal."
"60% of the time, it works 100% of the time."
One of the things that impresses me the most about the film is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the performance delivered by Will Ferrell. He manages to be both insanely unlikeable at times during the film's story, and yet his character and performance also manages to display this remarkably softer side that is more 'human' and compelling. This is truly a great indicator reflecting the comedic (and acting) chops of Ferrell, which makes the film ultimately be a significantly more enjoyable comedy. The rest of the cast 'meets up' with his performance undeniably well and Anchorman is a truly good ensemble showcase when it wants to be. There are also a ton of cameos sprinkled throughout the film that add to the comedic wonder when the film is at it's most successful.
Anchorman might not be a 'perfect' comedy: I certainly never felt that way about it upon release or even after the onslaught of fandom it inspired. Yet it is a genuinely funny film. Something about this film just "works" and appeals to a ton of people. It's part Ferrell's comedic chops, undoubtedly, but it's also the way the film offers successful satire and a surprising heart by conclusion. Some of the jokes might go on to long, some of them would have been better if actually left on the cutting-room floor, and some additional editing would have made certain scenes play even better than they do in either the theatrical or extended versions. Regardless, Anchorman works well more often than it doesn't and it certainly entertains. It's considered a comedy classic at this point and fans of the film continue to enjoy the comedic sensibilities it contains today as much as they did when it was first released.
Anchorman arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 1.78:1 framed transfer that is close to the 1.85:1 presentation originally featured. This is a stellar presentation for a comedy. The bitrates hover around the mid-to-upper 30mbps range and the detail, clarity, and depth is surprisingly a effective element of the film's presentation. This is an intentionally subdued cinematic film with cinematography that feels perfect for the 70's vibe featured prominently throughout and the high quality transfer maintaining that vision makes this a successful presentation.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 24 bit audio presentation is the best I expect this film to ever be capable of sounding. It's competent and it sounds good with the lossless sound presentation but there isn't anything too impressive about this sound mix which is only occasionally effective in utilizing the surrounds and is mostly a front and center sound design. This is a dialogue heavy film and in that regard the quality of the presentation succeeds. It just isn't as immersive as a experience. This might not be that big of a surprise. Comedies rarely receive the best audio presentations in terms of sound design and Anchorman is no different in this regard.
This release is packed to the brim with extra content. So much so that the title of the edition being referential to the "Rich Mahogany" line from the film is appropriate given that this is certainly a set with tons of material that should please fans. In this rare case, I'm not sure if having this much supplemental material is even necessary, but then again... diehard fans of Anchorman will undoubtedly love having so much extra content (even if a lot of it is akin to fluffy pancakes).
First of all, viewers get the option of picking between two versions of Anchorman: theatrical and extended. Either option provides (more-or-less) the same exact film with just a few differences to the overall film. There are also two commentaries tracks (one for each version) featuring cast and crew - including Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay.
On disc one, the following is also included: bloopers, 36 deleted and/or extended scenes, the Afternoon Delight music video (featuring the cast of the film), and an ESPN SportsCenter Audition featuring Ron Burgundy.
Disc two contains an abundance of extras for Anchorman as well. This kicks-off with the full length Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (HD) feature film. Originally released as a direct-to-DVD release it is presented on this collector's edition in high definition as one of the supplements. Apparently, so much footage was shot during the making of Anchorman that the film had several cut sequences and entire sub-plots which were removed from the final version. Some of the footage was later included just as deleted scenes - but here is a reassembled option, showcasing some of the 'big' moments cut. This seems like a great concept and it's clear that the feature had a lot of work go into editing it to be a 'feature'. However, it still feels like a collection containing the less-funny and rightfully excised moments of Anchorman.
The second disc contains an introduction by Will Ferrell and Aaron Zimmerman, raw footage known as "Good Takes" (which contains 27 different takes and improvisations), Anchorman cast auditions, Ron Burgundy PSA's, Ron Burgundy Emmy Awards Speech, table read from 6/2/03 (featuring six scenes), Happy Birthday AMC Loews, Interviews from the MTV Music Awards, Cinemax: The Making of Anchorman, Comedy Central: Reel Comedy, Anchorman, rehearsal footage, and trailers promoting Anchorman.
The set also contains a 32 page print "Ron Burgundy's Diary" and 12 "trading cards" (though I wonder who would trade them if the cards are all identical).
Anchorman is one of the most beloved comedies of the past decade. This "Rich Mahogany" special edition Blu-ray was previously exclusive to Best Buy stores but is now available everywhere as the premiere of the sequel is almost here. It has solid PQ/AQ and tons of supplemental materials.
Regardless of whether or not Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues turns out to be any good, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a good comedy and this collector's edition will undoubtedly satisfy fans of Will Ferrell and company.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.