Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is still a comedy classic some fifteen years following its theatrical release in July 2004.
The KVWN Channel 4 newsroom certainly may be one of the most sexist in cinematic history. Things are changing in 1973 and leading news anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is not ready. Nor is the rest of the Channel 4 news team: Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). After a night of partying to celebrate first place in the San Diego ratings, station director Ed Harken (Fred Willard) informs them that Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is joining the team. Not only does this not sit well but all four men try to run her out of town. Veronica is a strong independent woman and can certainly stand up for herself. Regardless, it doesn’t stop them from sexually harassing her.
Even though Ron had other ideas in mind, Veronica agrees to join him on a tour of San Diego. Obviously, it certainly helps to know the city in which you’re reporting the news. Ron being Ron, he announces their newfound relationship on the air. While the newscaster has a good thing going for him, his life is about to fall apart when a motorcyclist (Jack Black) punts Baxter off the San Diego–Coronado Bridge. This alone would be cause for a bad day but not for Ron. Because of this, Veronica takes the anchor’s desk and brings in higher ratings than Ron could ever know. It becomes depression city once Ron learns that Veronica is his new co-anchor. The rivalry becomes fiercer than ever.
If the rivalry isn’t enough, the news team faces off against competitor Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) and his team. What looks to be a fight between two teams leads way to cameos galore from Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Tim Robbins. One rule: the hair and face are off limits. Other than this, anything goes. Except for Owen Wilson, just about every Frat Pack member is in the film. It needs to be noted that Stiller isn’t a fan of the label but I don’t know what other phrase to use.
As if the fight couldn’t be enough, Veronica tricks Ron into saying “Go fuck yourself, San Diego!” live on television. The fact that Ron will read anything that comes across the teleprompter is rather sad if you ask me. Ed reacts as soon as Ron says the words yet for Ron, it’s just business as usual. How much of an idiot does one have to be to not realize what words just came out of your mouth?!? Fired, Ron falls quickly into a depression. Some three months later when the panda is set to give birth, it’s Ron and the news team to the rescue when Veronica gets pushed into a Kodiak bear den.
What’s so interesting in watching the film again is the subtle commentary of a 1970s newsroom. It’s a genius idea when you think about it. Ron Burgundy can be the most serious news anchor when he’s on camera but as soon as the on-air button goes off, anything can and will happen. What mostly transpires are things so sexist that any of the four men could have been fired today in the #MeToo era. Veronica Corningstone stands up to their sexual advances but ultimately comes to realize how much she needs Ron professionally and maybe personally, too.
As a filmmaker, writer-director Adam McKay made a name for himself with comedies. The Other Guys–with its focus on ponzi schemes–is his notable foray into political satire. McKay would follow this by contributing to the story for The Campaign. Of course, there’s also The Big Short and Vice. Together with Will Ferrell, the duo have written one of my favorite comedies of all time in this classic.
The film’s legacy extends beyond just that of McKay. Judd Apatow produced the classic. Without this, Apatow doesn’t meet Steve Carell on set. The duo would go onto to write The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which would lead to Apatow writing Knocked Up for Seth Rogen. Freaks and Geeks certainly plays a role in this–Rogen has a cameo in Anchorman. Throw in Superbad, This is 40, and the rest is history.
Oft-quoted, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is one of the best comedies of this century. You stay classy, San Diego!
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCREENWRITERS: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
CAST: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Fred Willard