If only "Anchorman" got the pioneering credit it deserves. It's not just a SNL sketch turned into a feature length film--it's the birth of a new era of comedy thread on the strings of the old.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - Unrated (2004, HD DVD)
Directors: Adam McKay
Producers: Judd Apatow
Writers: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Features: * Commentary * Featurettes * Interviews with Ron Burgundy * Deleted Scenes * Outtakes * Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus
Will Ferrell ... Ron Burgundy
Christina Applegate ... Veronica Corningstone
Paul Rudd ... Brian Fantana
Steve Carell ... Brick Tamland
David Koechner ... Champ Kind
Fred Willard ... Ed Harken
Chris Parnell ... Garth Holliday
"Anchorman" holds a special place in my heart as it was the first date of myself and my wife. And honestly, I was sort of nervous and didn't fully enjoy the film until it hit video a few months later. In a lot of ways, "Anchorman" is a forgotten Apatow comedy. No one really talks about it much anymore despite it being a hilarious little film full of irreverent humor and signature Will Ferrellisms.
The film is also an astonishing collection of up-and-coming stars from Paul Rudd to Steve Carrell to Christina Applegate. This film is loaded with talent. So why doesn't it get more recognition these days? If "Anchorman" were released today, in a society that feeds on irreverant youTube and FunnyorDie humor, the film would have a smash hit, grossing more than it did when it was released in theaters. But "Anchorman" probably wouldn't be quite the same either.
The cast would be wholly different as this many comedy stars in one film is just unthinkable now. Also, the film would likely be more watered down like Ferrell's latest attempts like "Talledega Nights" and "Blades of Glory." Tragically, "Anchorman" may mark the end of mainstream internet-humor inspired big budget comedies with big name stars. Or perhaps it silently marked the beginning.
Either way, "Anchorman" is a stunningly poignant little film that's actually somewhat based on a true story. Yes, there wasn't a Ron Burgundy nor was there a Veronica Corningstone, but the birth of the attractive female journalist in the mid-70's did spell the end of the unattractive male lead anchor. The film reflects that fear and mentality as Veronica Corningstone enters the world run by Ferrell's Burgundy. She slowly tears it apart and builds a world where a woman really can report the news. It's hard to imagine a time where that sentiment didn't ring true to people--when people thought that a news anchor was a "man's job." It almost seems ludicrous and that's exactly the comic edge that "Anchorman" taps into.
The film was produced by Judd Apatow and his touch is, as always, ubiquitous from start to finish. In many ways, this is the first Apatow Gang feature film with many of his upcoming stars in supporting roles or in cameos (watch quickly for Seth Rogen as an eager cameraman). If only "Anchorman" got the pioneering credit it deserves. It's not just a SNL sketch turned into a feature length film--it's the birth of a new era of comedy thread on the strings of the old. It's edgy, hit and miss, and irreverent, but it's also got cult classic written all over it.
Film Report Card:
As entertainment: A-
As a film: B
This is a review of the HD DVD version of "Anchorman."
Paramount presents "Anchorman" on HD DVD in 1.85:1 widescreen, encoded in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video on a HD-30 dual-layer disc. Again, like "Old School", I wasn't expecting much from this release, but what I got was an amazingly sharp, vibrant transfer. Textures and perfectly manifested and black levels are dead-on. The image is nearly pristine and the color palette is perfectly rendered. My only real problem with the disc was that I occasionally caught specks of white grain and hairs on the master. Why these weren't cleaned up is beyond me. But the specks are few and far between and this is easily better than the original DVD which I found to be plagued with edge enhancement and digital grain.
Paramount gives fans a Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus track. There's not too much of a difference between this track and original Dolby Digital 5.1 track found on the original DVD. Placement is minimal but very well done. Surround effects and not too loud and well balanced with the center channel.
While all of the original DVD supplements are contained here, I couldn't help but wish to see the second film, "Wake Up Ron Burgundy" contained on this disc as an extra feature, even if it was only in standard definition. Alas, we do not get the second or alternate movie as it is.
What fans do get are a commentary track, deleted scenes and bloopers, numerous appearances of Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, a music video and a featurette. Most of the material well worth giving a spin, particularly the commentary track and the deleted material. The interviews with Ferrel as Burgundy don't hold as well as they once did. All of these special features are presented in standard definition.
There's nothing here. It really would have been nice to have both the Unrated Version and the Theatrical Version of the film on once disc, or have the second "Anchorman" movie, "Wake Up Ron Burgundy" included. But none of those are featured here.
This is Will Ferrell at the top of the world. Steve Carrell before he was a 40 year-old virgin. Paul Rudd before he became a supporting comedy genius and Christina Applegate before she was a hit TV star (for the second time). There's so much talent here, it's sick. If you haven't watched "Anchorman" yet, go out and give it a spin. The HD DVD version of the film provides a better A/V presentation of the film, but don't expect to see any new special features.
HD DVD Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Overall Value: B+
On HD DVD: November 27th, 2007
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----R. L. Shaffer