Anchorman: Unrated, Uncut & Uncalled For
Film Length: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Retail Price: $29.98
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is the best and sexiest (so he thinks) news reporter in the San Diego area and he really doesn’t mind telling people. Everywhere Ron goes he makes sure people knows he is the greatest at what he does. With this fame comes wild parties, sexy women and plenty of alcohol to keep things going smoothly. One day at a news meeting the boss (Fred Willard) introduces a new reporter (Christina Applegate), which doesn’t sit well with Ron and his group. Ron thinks women should only work on their backs and the thought of her joining the team doesn’t sit well with him. Since she’s hot Ron decides to ask her out on a date and the two quickly fall for one another, which causes friction in Ron’s idea of what women should be.
Anchorman is a constantly entertaining film but for some reason, in the end it really doesn’t work for a variety of reasons. The film tries to do so many different things that it’s never really clear what the director or its star is trying to do. Some scenes try to be a sharp satire of the news industry and when it stays on this level plenty of laughs follow. The stuff involving the crew recording promos looking as if they’re the happiest family on Earth when in fact they’re constantly fighting is funny and I’m sure very true. However, the film also tries for low grade humor including an incredibly stupid street fight that really takes away for any satire the film had going for it.
However, the biggest problem is that we’ve got Will Ferrell going all over the place and for the life of me, I wonder if the director ever stepped in and said that’s enough. Ferrell goes so over the top that he becomes rather obnoxious instead of funny. Early in the film there’s a party sequence where Ferrell walks around as if he’s the greatest thing God ever put on the face of the Earth. This comedy here is very low key and it gets laughs because the viewer can laugh at this man who should be laughing at himself. Where Ferrell’s performance goes wrong is that the truth is a lot funnier than him going over the top like he does. There are several scenes of Ferrell goofing around on the phone, the before mentioned street fight and an incredibly stupid homage to Raging Bull where he loses all control and turns into a bum.
To make matters worst is a side love story that really never takes off. Christina Applegate, who would later go on to suffer a greater fate in Surviving Christmas, never really does anything here and as I said in that previous review, she should really stick to playing dumb blondes. I certainly could never take her serious but perhaps that’s not the point. I guess the point of her performance is to get laughs but she didn’t make me laugh either. The so-called love story involving the two really never works because there’s just no chemistry between the two. The story was a lot funnier when Ferrell was trying to pick her up but of course the screenplay had to make her another weak character who is just there to set up silly jokes about who’s sleeping with who.
The one saving grace to this film are the supporting characters who are a lot funnier and far more interesting than the two leads. The supporting news team members include Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steven Carell) and Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) who all really shine in their roles. Nearly everyone of their scenes are really on the mark and the only time Ferrell gets to shine is when one of these guys are in the scene and set him up with a good joke. Another bonus comes from all sorts of cameos including Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins and Luke Wilson. Apparently the director told all of these guys that this film was suppose to be a satire and they deliver very good in their small roles.
While Anchorman isn’t a complete bust I can’t help but wish the film had centered on the supporting characters and left Ron Burgundy in the background. Perhaps the film would have worked a lot better had it centered on the entire team instead of centering on Ron and his childish behavior. The satire between a group of guys not wanting a woman joining the team made ways for some very funny moments but this are often put to the side with a useless love story or over the top scenes that serve no purpose and really break the mode of the film. There are some funny scenes in Anchorman but not enough for me to call this a good comedy.
VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. A few members here posted their thoughts on the transfer calling it very bad and while I wouldn’t go that far, the transfer certainly is lacking something. I’ve seen just about every release from Dreamworks and I’d certainly call this their worst transfer but it’s still somewhat good. The biggest problem I noticed was that the entire film came off looking very soft and contained very little detail. When the movie was over the end credits started up and I really had to strain my eyes just to read what was going on the screen. The wording was a blurry mess and this softness leaks throughout the rest of the transfer. Just take a look at the scene where Ron goes to a club with Veronica. The scene is in the dark with a light bluish tint but the softness is so visible that it appears like the fuzz on a peach. The softness also takes away from some of the colors, which should look a lot stronger than they do. Another minor issue is some edge enhancement, which is easily spotted but it’s rather hard to tell if it’s EE or just an incredibly soft part of the transfer.
Outside that the transfer isn’t too bad. I’m really not sure what went wrong here but you might not notice any of this if you’re viewing the film on a smaller display. I watched the commentary in the bedroom on my 4:3 set and I didn’t notice as much softness but when the picture is blown up it’s certainly there. I don’t normally give star ratings but if I did I’d probably rank this as a . Again, it’s not horribly bad but it’s a major disappointment considering the work Dreamworks normally delivers.
AUDIO---We get English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks as well as an English 2.0 Surround track. Considering this is a mostly dialogue driven film, the 5.1 track does a pretty good job. As is to be expected, the dialogue is very clear throughout the running time and no problems could be heard here. The rear speakers don’t get much action and I really don’t remember hearing anything coming from them. The Surrounds are used a lot more than you might expect and are clearly the highlight of the track. The various songs played throughout sound remarkably crisp and the detail is quite nice. Minor sound effects also come off quite well and these include a certain wreck on a bridge and the effects coming from the bear’s den towards the end of the film.
EXTRAS---As with prior releases, when the start the disc you will be greeted with trailers but thankfully you can skip them on this release. I just had to push the “Menu” button but the forward button appears to work as well. Also, like earlier releases, no trailer can be found on the disc and it’s rather strange Dreamworks are leaving this off, although they will appear on other discs.
The first extra is an audio commentary with director Adam McKay and Ferrell, which has about five different warnings throughout the disc and package. The package warns about the profanity and there’s a menu that comes up before the track starts warning of bad language. If you’re wanting to learn any secrets about the making of the film then you can forget it because the two set out to make the raunchiest commentary in history—and they did it. Remember back in middle school there was always some idiot who thought he was funny because he said a dirty word? Well, that’s what this track reminded me of. I’m sure both men thought they were funny but after five minutes I had to hit the chapter skip button. I went through every other chapter stop and it’s the same thing. The two say the F word was much as possible and they even talk about screwing a moose. The two are constantly joking about this track being banned and it is in a way. The track is full of bleeps that cut out some of the dirty talk including one segment where the director claims he gave oral sex to a famous person of some sports team. The team is bleeped out but it appears to be a joke aimed at O.J. Simpson. The entire track is full of this stuff but it’s not funny after the first couple of minutes. Instead of wasting money with the bleeps Dreamworks should have just cut this. I doubt the biggest bad of weed would help make this funny.
Up next is a blooper reel that runs just over seven minutes. If you enjoy seeing actors mess up their lines then I’m sure you’ll find this section funny. These blooper reels are among my favorite extras so it’s always nice to have them. The Making of Anchorman runs just over nine minutes and features interviews with the director and various cast members including Ferrell and Applegate. Most of this just has them acting goofy and really doesn’t go into the making of the film. A Conversation With Ron is a staged interview segment with a reporter talking to Ron about the movie being made about him. This here runs just over ten minutes and is actually pretty funny and worth your time. Up next are two promos that were shown before the film was released. One is from the MTV Music Awards and the other is a fake audition that Ron did for Sportcenter back in 1979. Both of these segments are very funny including the latter one where Ron swears no one is interested in a sports station. Up next are twenty-two deleted scenes and it’s strange but all of them actually work quite well. I’m going to guess these were cut due to time reasons but perhaps these should have stayed in the film and something else should have been removed. Finally we get a music video, cast info, production notes and trailers for other Dreamworks films.
OVERALL---I’m not too familiar with Will Ferrell but I really didn’t find him all too funny here nor did I really find his character funny. The supporting cast is where the gold really is and I’d probably recommend a rental for the cameos. If you’re a fan of the film then you should enjoy the extras even with the incredibly stupid commentary track. The 5.1 mix is handled nicely but for some reason the transfer is way too soft, which is a shock coming from Dreamworks. A 2-disc Special Edition is also out there.
Release Date: December 28th, 2004