The summer movie-going season has long been a time of somewhat diminished expectations. By that I mean: People now understand that -- when they visit their local multiplex between the months of May and August -- that they're probably not going to find many thoughtful dramas playing there.
Yeah, summer is the time when big action epics and brainless comedies reign supreme at the box office. And -- speaking of brainless comedies -- a pretty smart one just popped up at your local cinema: Dreamworks' "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."
"What do I mean by 'smart'?," you ask. Well, "Anchorman" is a movie with very few pretensions. This Will Ferrell film doesn't want to make you think. It doesn't want to make you feel. It just wants to make you laugh. Long, loud and hard.
Ferrell plays the title character of this Adam McKay movie: Ron Burgundy, a local TV anchorman who's so dense that he makes Ted Baxter (of "Mary Tyler Moore" fame) seem like a Rhodes scholar. Yeah, Ron ruled the airwaves in San Diego back in the 1970s. Along with his news team: sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), "man on the street" reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
And things were going great for Burgundy. Until news director Ed Harken (Fred Willard) decided to hire Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) -- the station's first female reporter -- to add some diversity to Ron's news team.
As you might expect, Burgundy doesn't know quite what to make of Ms. Corningstone. Of course, what isn't helping matters is that -- prior to their official introduction in the workplace -- Ron actually hit on Veronica at a staff pool party.
So -- right from the get-go -- Burgundy feels awkward around Ms. Corningstone. Not just because this attractive new arrival upsets the natural order of things in his newsroom. But also because Ron finds himself falling for the formidable Veronica.
And that -- my friends -- pretty much sums up the plot of "Anchorman." Burgundy & Corningstone fall in love. Midway through the movie, these two reporters suddenly fall out of love. And then -- five minutes before the picture ends -- Ron & Veronica fall in love once more. Which allows the picture to end on an up note. And -- in-between all that -- some funny stuff happens.
Okay. I know. "Anchorman" sounds like it has a pretty thin plot. Even by summer movie-going standards. But let's be honest here, folks. People don't go to Will Ferrell comedies because they're looking to pull an M. Night Shyamalan. (I.E. Spend hours afterwards discussing every twist & turn of that film's intricate & elaborate plot. )
No, people go to Will Ferrell comedies like "Old School" & "Elf" because they want to see this "SNL" vet go through his paces. Go that extra mile to sell a joke, put each & every gag over the top.
Well -- if that's the reason that you're thinking of heading out to catch "Anchorman" this weekend -- I am pleased to inform you that Ferrell's playing at the top of his game. His Ron Burgundy is a genuinely funny creation. Decked out in period garb as well as his perfectly coifed hair, Farrell is the poster child for the sensitive '70's male. Totally self absorbed but not even close to being self aware.
Yeah, Ron fits Will like a glove. Of course, that's not all that surprising. Given that Farrell -- working in collaboration with the film's director, Adam McKay -- wrote the screenplay for "Anchorman."
But what IS surprising that Will made sure that his costars got plenty of good material to work with too. Many comedians (particularly when working on a self-produced project like "Anchorman") would make sure that they got the lion's share of the funny lines. Not Ferrell. This "Saturday Night" veteran is a secure enough talent that he can afford to spread the laughs among his fellow castmates.
Which is why Steve Carell (of "Daily Show" fame) virtually walks off with "Anchorman." Every time Carell's dim bulb of a weatherman opens his mouth, another sure-to-be-repeated-around-the-water-cooler line comes cascading out, totally destroyed the audience.
Fred Willard also steals more than his share of scenes in this film. Not to mention Ferrell's film-making cronies -- Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn & Luke Wilson -- who all turn in extended cameos in "Anchorman" that have to be seen to be believed.
Again, I know. We're not talking "Citizen Kane" here, folks. Just another brainless summer comedy that's at least smart enough to know what it has to do to amuse its audience. Which is keep the gags coming at a pretty good clip. So that -- even if any one joke fails -- there'll be another amusing bit of business along in just a few minutes.
So if the heat's getting to you this month. And you'd like to get away for a few hours, sit in the dark, eat some popcorn and laugh like crazy ... Well, "Anchorman" is probably the movie you're looking for.
"Anchorman" is rated PG-13 for the film's sexual humor, language as well as some comic violence. For more information on this Dreamworks release, follow this link to the official "Anchorman" website.