Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The “Rich Mahogany” Edition
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 98 Mins (unrated)
Video: 1080P High Definition 16X9 - 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: August 31, 2010 (as a Best Buy Exclusive ONLY)
Review Date: August 22, 2010
“I'm gonna punch you in the ovary, that's what I'm gonna do. A straight shot. Right to the babymaker.”
Will Ferrell isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When his brand of humor, or shtick, finds its mark, the results can be popular and successful. Elf is Ferrell’s most financially successful film, but Talladega Nights is perhaps his most popular. He doesn’t seem to stray too far from what he knows which has seen mixed results. For every Anchorman there is a Bewitched, and for every Step Brothers there is a Semi-Pro. Last year, Ferrell starred in the financially disappointing Land of the Lost, which continued his unusual streak of hit followed by miss. As if expected then, his latest film, The Other Guys, managed to once again strike a chord (and is really quite funny). Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy seems to be a love it/hate it film – as many of Ferrell’s films seem to be – but the comedic accomplishment and assembly of strong comedic talent is almost legendary itself. Anchorman arrives on blu-ray in a superb “Rich Mahogany” edition, exclusive to Best Buy, with no less than three versions of the film in high definition.
The Film: 4.5 out of 5
Comedies come in all shapes and sizes. Slapstick, high-brow, low-brow, witty, sardonic, simple, obscure, self-referential, family friendly…I could go on, but you get my point. There has been every kind of comedy you could possibly think of and - as with every genre - there have been a fair share of hits & misses; successes & failures. Not every failure on the comedy front has sunk as it should have at the box office (Norbit anyone?) and not every comedy gem has found the financial recognition it deserves. Anchorman is very much an oddball, and a beautiful, clever and dedicated oddball at that. It found moderate success, financially speaking, and managed to please or perplex audiences in equal measure. It’s a love it or hate it kind of film to most that see it. I fall into the love it category.
Let me tell you why.
Will Ferrell is a very clever comedian. He hasn’t starred in very clever films in his cinematic career, but he is dedicated, original, and when he finds a character that he likes, invests completely in that character. Talladega Nights is a great example of that dedication and originality. It’s a very funny film that resonated with audiences, found enormous financial success, and helped solidify Ferrell as a comedic talent to watch. Anchorman is the progenitor of his tale of Ricky Bobby – and I think a much better film, and from his entire library of films, from A Night at the Roxbury to this year’s The Other Guys, is absolutely the best display of what he brings to the world of comedy.
First, Anchorman has a great story set up. Set in the 1970’s, in a world where the chauvinistic world of Anchormen was filled with hero worship and absurd rivalries between local stations. To men like Ron Burgundy, who knew nothing of political correctness, women had only one purpose, to look good. Ron’s comfortable existence at the top of the manly food chain, and his unfettered sexist attitude, hit a brick wall when he is unwillingly teamed with the beautiful and talented Veronica Corningstone, played by Christina Applegate in what I easily consider her best onscreen performance.
Secondly, the cast of characters assembled for the film features the lightning hot talents of Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Vince Vaughn and the unstoppable Steve Carell. Each character is unique, different in their comedic style with an endless opportunity to be funny. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the actors were given just the basic frame of what as scene was to be about and then spent their time improvising the funniest way to make that scene happen. The level of absurdity and comedy in some scenes reaches such a saturation point, that I can only marvel at the unrelenting hilariousness coming from the actors.
Thirdly, the film is definitely for a grown up audience, especially its extended version. For years, comedy films had been sliding into an abyss of universally appealing, family oriented affairs leaving any hopes for edgier or more adult satisfying work languishing on the sidelines. I don’t know if Anchorman itself helped cinematic comedy turn the corner to bring us where we are today (with films like 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked-Up, I love You Man and Superbad raking in the dough), but it serves at the very least as a solid rung on that ladder.
Lastly, Will Ferrell pulls off comedy gold with his ludicrous, lovable, and laugh-out-loud funny Ron Burgundy character. He manages to create a man so overwhelmingly sexist that it reaches beyond parody and into the realm of slapstick, but not with any of the traditional trappings of the slapstick style of comedy. Anyone who enjoys his Ricky Bobby character, complete with assured self-confidence, carefree abandon for logic and social norms, and an utterly oblivious view of his own world, should easily enjoy the machine that is the chauvinistic Ron Burgundy. The film is rich with an outstanding comedy script and bevies of adlibs and improvised laugh-inducing scenes. The quality of talent appearing in cameos, such as Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Luke Wilson, also help to elevate this film beyond merely an average comedy.
Adam Mckay’s directorial debut is confident, irreverent, hilarious and at times genuinely bizarre, and the end result is certainly the best comedy from the McKay/Apatow library. Anchorman is absolutely side-splitting.
The Video: 4 out of 5
Paramount Pictures presents Anchorman on blu-ray in 1080p high definition. Having been released on HD-DVD back in 2008, I was interested to see just how much of an improvement the blu-ray version would be, and I have to say it was better than I expected. Set in the 1970’s, The Legend of Rob Burgundy often has a somewhat muted tone capture the feel of era, but more often than I expected, the gaudy bright oranges and yellows (holdovers from the styling of the sixties) really seem to pop. Take the party scene where Ron Burgundy first meets the beautiful Veronica – his bright dressing gown, and the colors of the party, are bright and bold. And throughout the image retains the proper film look.
The level of detail, while occasionally soft, is for the most part excellent. The pores on Will Ferrell’s face (which can be found often given the number of close-ups director Adam McKay features) are clearly visible, and the detail of the various materials, from rugs to jackets, are strong.
With three versions of the film, the theatrical edition, the extended edition, and the “chaff from the wheat” edition, better known as Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, each presented in 1080p high definition, this release is just terrific.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy isn’t the kind of film that you spin when your friends come over so you can show off the hi-def goods, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t deliver the great soundtrack and constant onslaught of jokes in top notch form. Paramount provides a solid English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (compared to the English 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus provided on the HD-DVD release) and it serves the film very well, with clear center channel performance delivering the wickedly funny and original lines, one after the other. The off-beat antics, including the very funny news team brawl, are well handled in the surrounds and the LFE, while the well-placed score by Alex Wurman is well-handled throughout.
The Extras: 5 out of 5
Many special features have been ported over from the previously released DVD and HD-DVD versions. The brand new special features are indicated by the *
Theatrical and Extended editions (HD)
Commentary with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay: There is no denying the commentary is unique and funny, but as far as providing any sort of valuable information on the process of making the film or the film itself, it is useless. So enjoy it for an extension of the Apatow/McKay/Ferrell brand of commentary and nothing else.
‘Afternoon Delight’ Music Video(3:49): Ron Burgundy and gang serenade the world with an odd musical ode to daytime love making.
Deleted Scenes & Extended Scenes(37:53): 36 high quality deleted scenes, many of which had me laughing as much as the scenes included in the final cut of the film (this includes additional cut scenes not available on the previous DVD or HD-DVD releases).
Bloopers(7:45): The best part of these very funny bloopers is seeing Will Ferrell breach the façade of his seemingly impenetrable Ron Burgundy veneer.
ESPN SportsCenter Audition(1:54): A fake audition tape that has the impudent and ignorant Ron Burgundy trying out for a presenter on ESPN.
Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie(HD): The entire ‘lost movie’ presented in high definition for the first time.This is quite the gem and a genuinely intriguing inclusion, featuring a new narrative based on unused scenes or footage (and some footage that was used) from the film.
Intro-Commentary with Will Ferrell and Aaron Zimmerman (12:00): Funny commentary/intro available over the opening of Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie.
*Raw Footage “Good Takes”: A wealth of takes, with spontaneous retakes and redelivery or lines here provides a good peak at the creative and comedic skills involved in trying on different versions for size. Buried among the takes are versions used and, as a result, we get to see the diamond in the actual (but funny) rough.
PSA (3:41): 5 absurd Public Service Announcements from Ron Burgundy
Awards Speech (3:12): Ron Burgundy gives award speeches at the Emmy’s.
*“Afternoon Delight” Recording Session (2:58):Funny behind the scenes at the recording session with the actors cutting up and bantering.
*AMC Loews Happy Birthday (3:15): Filmed to help Loew’s theaters celebrate 100 years (Loew’s was acquired by AMC theaters).
*Interviews(10:14): Another funny skit of Ron Burgundy in an awkward interview with Rebecca Romijn shown at the 2004 MTV video awards, and interviews with Jim Caviezel and Burt Reynolds (Previously available with just the Rebecca Romijn interview).
Cinemax: The Making of Anchorman (9:28): A more traditional behind the scenes look with interviews with the stars, producer Judd Apatow and writer/director Adam McKay. The real gem in here is the rehearsal and audition tape footage.
Reel Comedy: Anchorman(8:29): This special feature comes from the Comedy Central ‘Reel Comedy’ program – a rather standard marketing tie in and less than impressive.
A Conversation with Ron Burgundy (10:40): Will Ferrell in character talking to Bill Curtis on stage in front of an audience. One of the things that Will Ferrell does better than most is staying in character at all times, thinking and being funny as the person he is playing. I caught him on Conan O’Brian on the PR tour for the film and was impressed with his ability to ‘be’ the outrageous character.
*Cast Auditions:Auditions from the cast members, including some great footage of actors reading for alternate parts from which they were cast, and alternate actors (like Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph reading for the Veronica role).
*Table Read (18:37):From June 2nd, 2003, a very funny cast table read of several scenes.
Commercial Break (2:03): A series of home movie snippets behind the scenes as the movie was in production. A little disjointed and doesn’t really add up to much.
Rehearsals (9:09): Footage from rehearsals as the actors feel out scenes.
Playback Video(5:10): Throwaway, cutaway ‘on the spot’ news reports.
Commercial Break(2:04): A short collection of behind-the-scenes snippets
*As part of Best Buys exclusive release packaging, this edition comes with a 32-page personal diary, written (or should I say scribbled) by Ron Burgundy, and a set of 12 trading cards.
Anchorman comes pretty close to being perfect and is certainly one of the most enjoyable comedies from the last 20 years. For me, it ranks at the top with off-beat gems like The Jerk, Blazing Saddles and Woody Allen’s Sleeper. To sound like an utter cliché, Anchorman is literally a laugh-a-minute delight and if Will Ferrell’s humor and the Judd Apatow adult skewed tone is your cup of tea, then Anchorman is highly recommended. The film is perfectly silly, delightfully portrayed by all the superbly comedic cast, and completely dedicated to its premise – I love this film and cannot recommend it enough.
Overall 4.5 out of 5