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By Eric Campos | July 10, 2004

Ferrell fanatics, your movie is here. Everything up to this point has been cool. Really cool. It just seems like there’s been too little for fans to absorb. (Absorb? Now this is starting to sound creepy.) A good example is Old School. While many will proclaim that movie is Will Ferrell’s best big screen performance, the whole thing does rely on his two major scenes. I know we all could’ve done with a lot more Frank the Tank, but we took what was given us and we try not to sound like ingrates. Fans liked being teased with Frank the Tank; they knew that there would be something meatier coming down the road, something that would put Ferrell front and center where he belongs. Some thought it might be Elf. And in the long run they were suckered. But here we finally are with “Anchorman” and fans finally get what they’ve been itching for – full force Will Ferrell at his best. And as an added bonus, we all get one of the funniest movies of the year…that is if you don’t mind your humor on the rude and crude side.
A cross between Will Ferrell’s Robert Goulet and Alex Trebek, Ron Burgundy is San Diego’s top hot s**t newsanchor. Along with his crack news team – Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steven Carell) – he’s created a news program that’s depended on for its top-notch news reporting just as much as it is for its machismo. Yeah, this is a macho motley bunch that, when not casting their smoky gazes into the homes and bars of San Diego, are living it up at luxurious parties. Big Dick News is what their show should be called. But then Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) enters the picture. She’s a hot news reporter looking to budge her way into the position as anchorwoman. Veronica’s addition to the team isn’t very welcome by Ron and crew, that is until Ron falls for her and lets whatever professionalism he had in the first place slip, turning him into a public boob.
So yeah, this is basically the Will Ferrell show and it’s been a long time coming. But he doesn’t carry the movie alone. Each and every one of his co-stars brings their own comedic muscle to the table. Paul Rudd as the sleazy news reporter, David Koechner as the obnoxious s**t kickin’ sportscaster and Steven Carrell as the mentally retarded weatherman provide non-stop hilarious support. Fred Willard is his usual charming self and Christina Applegate is a perfect fit as the sexy, smart, ruthless and funny newswoman. And yes, there are plenty of noteworthy cameos, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises. Actually, the cameos aren’t really that surprising. Go ahead and take a guess at who’s gonna pop up and you’ll probably be right. Still, everyone is brilliant here in their parts, big or small.
While formulaic, “Anchorman” dodges the bullet that so many other formula comedies take right in the a*s and it’s that it doesn’t let story prevent the laughs from coming. Many films would see the introduction of the Veronica Corningstone character as a speedbump to the hilarity as Ron develops a relationship with her, but that’s not the case here. The jokes don’t slow up and it helps that Applegate mixes with the motely crew perfectly. And then there’s the whole dreaded beginning of the third act that brings many of these movies to a screeching halt as a tragic turn of events finds our hero or heroes screwed in some major way with the outlook of a happy ending not very bright. Of course you always do get the happy ending, but you have to deal with a bunch of bullshit before the funny starts up again. That tragic turn of events happens in “Anchorman” as well and right on the dot, the difference here is that it doesn’t keep the movie from being funny. There’s no break in the comedy. In fact, some of the movie’s funnier scenes are in this section of the film. It’s a very rare case that something like this happens, and it will make “Anchorman” stand out among the rest.

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