2004 by Tony Medley
Ah, this movie
raises an existential question that could drive people like Camus and
Satre wild. Is a movie born bad, or does society make it so? Or, to put
it another way, is a movie bad because my expectations are much higher
than the reality, or is it bad because itís just bad?
The given is that Anchorman
is bad. But I went into it with high expectations. People in the
audience were laughing occasionally. I heard someone exiting the theater
say, ďThat was really great!Ē I wasnít sure if it was someone
auditioning for a Direct TV commercial or not, because one thing is for
certain, regardless of your expectations, this movie is not ďgreat.Ē
So is it bad because I expected too much, or is it just bad?
written by NBCís Saturday Night Live mainstays Will Farrell and
Adam McKay, who makes his feature film directorial debut. McKay didnít
make the cut when he auditioned for SNL in 1994 as a performer, but he
was hired as a writer and promoted to Head Writer in 1995. Over the next
five years he participated in over 600 sketches. SNL has a reputation
for being funny. I find its humor to be usually low class, gross, and
unfunny. Because of the plethora of skits it throws out each week, a few
are so funny they sometimes become classic. But the sad fact is that the
majority of SNLís skits are clumsy, low intellect bombs. Anchormanís
SNL derivation shows in the vulgar, crotch-oriented, tasteless
attempts at humor it thrusts upon us.
(Farrell) is an egotistical, intellectual lightweight news anchor at a
San Diego TV station in the 1970ís, Channel 4.
Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is a smart, ambitious
beautiful woman who yearns to break into the all-male world of TV
anchoring. Ed Harken (Fred Willard) is Channel 4ís News Director.
Right off the bat
the film doesnít work. Even though sheís smart and ambitious and
heís a lightweight jerk, she falls for him and gets involved in an
affair. This gets about a zero on the credibility meter.
The film is
basically without a premise, merely a series of skits that even Lorne
Michaels might have rejected for SNL. Thereís one where Burgundy plays
the flute that is too absurd to be funny. In another thatís so crass
itís insulting, Burgundy gets physically excited by Veronica and it
shows through his pants.
crew is a bunch of unlikable nincompoops. There is a Gunfight at the OK
Corral type faceoff with the other news crews in town (which is where we
meet Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, and Tim Robbins in ludicrous
cameos. In fact, these guys are appearing in so many movies they might
soon be known as the Cameo Kings; as far as Iím concerned they not
only do not contribute anything, they detract from a film that is
already unappealing.). As
with just about everything else in this movie, what could have been
clever is so over the top itís just moronic.
As if Farrell and
McKay havenít done enough to convince us that they are philistines,
they compound the felony by throwing in an anti-President Bush line at
the end. Regardless of your political views, how obtusely insensitive do
you have to be to gratuitously offend half of your potential audience?
Whatís sad is that
this could have been a good idea, a parody on golden-tongued,
empty-headed news anchors who build huge popularity out of the simple
expedient of reading the news off a teleprompter. Why in the world are
these people stars? Alas, this film misses a golden opportunity by
crossing the line that separates parody from stupidity.
July 6, 2004