Will Ferrell is one of my favorite comedians to emerge from the ranks of Saturday Night Live over the past decade. While I haven’t seen every movie he’s made, I’ve enjoyed all of the ones that I’ve watched, including Anchorman. This film is a perfect parody of full-of-themselves male news anchors and the sexist attitudes that were prevalent during the ‘70s. (Not that sexism is gone, of course, but it was more “acceptable”, then.)
Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, who is cut from the same cloth as Ted Baxter of The Mary Tyler Moore Show fame (Burgundy’s dog is even named Baxter). He’s the top-rated anchorman in San Diego, beloved by all, but when word comes down from the network that the all-male news team needs to add a woman, tempers flare. Sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner), beat reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) join Burgundy in protesting the move as newcomer Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) arrives.
All of the men make passes at Corningstone, but Burgundy actually succeeds in taking her out on a date. Then he wins her over with his jazz flute skills, and soon they’re in a relationship. The tension continues, though, and when Corningstone learns that Burgundy will read anything that’s on the teleprompter, she inserts “Go fuck yourself, San Diego” at the end of the next newscast, leading to his firing. She becomes the station’s lead anchor, setting the stage for coverage of a historic giant panda birth that will of course lead to Burgundy saving the day when Corningstone is pushed into a kodiak bear pit by a public TV news anchor looking for the perfect shot.
That public TV news anchor is played by Tim Robbins, who’s one of many actors with cameos in Anchorman, including Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Luke Wilson, Danny Trejo, and others. The public TV news team is one of several rival news teams in the San Diego area - tensions between all of them lead to an all-out brawl that’s one of the movie’s funniest scenes.
This two-disc Blu-ray set features the theatrical version as well as an extended cut that’s only three minutes longer. Maybe that was meant as a joke, but you won’t find any answers to that question in the commentary track, which leads off with Ferrell and director Adam McKay parodying the lives of rich hedonists in Hollywood (McKay discusses his love for doing crystal meth for days at a time while Ferrell mentions wrecking a sports car and then walking away because he could afford to). Andy Richter and Kyle Gass crash the conversation, and Richter complains about auditioning for the movie and not getting a part.
While berating McKay, Richter says he thinks Rudd is a terrible actor, which leads to Rudd appearing by phone to defend his honor. After that situation ends, Ferrell and McKay bring in Lou Rawls to talk about his music, and then they have Applegate show up by phone at the end. It’s an amusing track, but you won’t learn anything about the making of the film from it, and after a while it gets tedious because they have over 90 minutes to fill.
Disc one is rounded out by over 50 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, some bloopers, Ron Burgundy’s hilarious SportsCenter audition, and a goofy music video for the song “Afternoon Delight,” which figures prominently in the film.
Moving on to disc two, we have Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, a supplemental film that was assembled from different versions of scenes and which includes a sub-plot featuring a terrorist group called The Alarm Clock, which was cut from the final version of the movie. Between this and the deleted and extended scenes, I’m amazed they shot that much footage for a 90-minute comedy, but I guess Ferrell and McKay were searching for the core of the story while making the film.
There’s a 12-minute introductory commentary by Ferrell and “Adam Zimmerman,” who says he was third credited producer on the movie, but it basically involves Ferrell doubting Zimmerman’s claims until the pretender admits that he just drives around LA all day shouting ideas at people from his car. It’s funny, and I’m glad they didn’t milk it for 90 minutes, but I wish Ferrell would have also taken some time to talk about this supplemental film.
There’s a ton of other content on this second disc, including a series of Public Service Announcements from Burgundy, his 1970 Emmy Awards acceptance speech, and his “Happy Birthday AMC Loews,” which was created to celebrate the theater chain’s 100th anniversary (in classic fashion, Burgundy doesn’t think that’s very impressive). There’s also nearly 40 minutes of raw footage from various improvisations that were done while filming.
We also get interviews by Burgundy with Rebecca Romijn, Jim Caviezel, and Burt Reynolds, along with rehearsals for the “Afternoon Delight” music video on the first disc. There’s also a trio of featurettes: Cinemax: The Making of Anchorman, a basic behind-the-scenes look at the film; Comedy Central Reel Comedy: Anchorman, which has legendary news anchor Bill Kurtis (he also did the film’s narration) interviewing Burgundy; and A Conversation with Ron Burgundy, in which Kurtis interviews him again, this time in front of an audience.
Finally, disc two is rounded out with cast auditions, a table read, rehearsal footage, humorous moments from the film set, a quick feature on the news team’s most embarrassing moments, and several trailers and TV spots. The package also includes a fun little book, The Many Months of Ron Burgundy, which features his appointments and to-do list items, such as “Help Brick find his apartment.” There’s also a pack of Anchorman trading cards.