Saturday, 7 February 2009

Oh Ron, there are literally thousands of other men that I should be with instead, but I am 72 percent sure that I love you.

No 113 - Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Director - Adam McKay

I was contemplating an early night. I had just attempted (and failed.... bloody noisy house) to watch the Benicio Del Toro interview on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and thought maybe bed would be the next logical step. But the BBC thwarted my plans by putting Anchorman on, so like the diligent man that I am, tenaciously following my Empire top 500 plan, I put on the kettle, picked up my notebook and settled down.

This has to be Will Ferrell's finest moment. The only thing I can think of that comes close it is his role as Mugatu in Zoolander, but in Anchorman he is channeling the same energy, the same genius, into a leading role. It is a film which is so immensely quotable, so plainly silly that it can not help but make you smile.

What is really impressive is that it manages to be so quotable. Classic lines like:
They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works, every time
What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole... wheel of cheese? How'd you do that? Heck, I'm not even mad; that's amazing. How 'bout we get you in your p.j.'s and we hit the hay.

The really impressive thing about the dialogue is that it is so quotable, this is especially so when you consider the vast amount of improvisation that took place. So much improvisation that a second film was edited out of the alternate takes. It is hard to tell whether the lines are carefully honed scripted moments or the flash of inspiration from one of the cast. The improvisation helps to keep the dialogue fresh, zesty and unexpected. Like an attack from a lemon.

The cast is superb, the News Team bounce off of one another and there is a real camaraderie there. Each member being a balanced mix of crude stereotype and true 3 dimensional characters. In fact, as I look down on my notes I all I can see are a smattering of names accompanied by the description "is ace". So please take into account that the following people are all ace.

Paul Rudd (who I think is brilliant in everything) - is superb as Brian Fantana, a chauvinistic pig who the ladies all love. He also has the best hair and moustache combo since the Argentinian in Moulin Rouge!

David Koechner manages to be both terrifying and quite sad as Butch Kind. He appears to be a loud bombastic former jock, who has since let himself go. He also seems (though it is never stated) to be completely depressed and a closet homosexual, in love with Ron.

But the star of the show has to be Steve Carell's superb turn as Brick Tamland. Described as 'mentally retarded' he is a character without an arc, spending the whole film in wide eyed wonder, never really understanding what is going on in his surroundings. He is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest comic creations of the modern age. Each of his lines is a simple, scene stealing moment of demented genius. Whilst Ron is the star of the film, Brick is the hero.

But what is best about the News Team, is that they understand what is important in life: New Suits

There's only one thing a man can do when he's suffering from a spiritual and existential funk.... Buy New Suits!
The rest of the film is filled with equally fantastic characters. Christina Applegate is fantastic as the love interest, and the co-anchor who is persecuted because she has breasts. Exquisite breasts. She more than holds her own against the rest of the news team. As do Fred Willard (Who I have already spoken about in Wall:E and who is a very funny man) and Judd Apatow as people 'behind the scenes' of the world of news.

As I begin to speak about the smaller roles, I lean towards the cameos.... There are a lot of cameos. A ridiculous amount in fact. And whilst one (Seth Rogan as the camera man) probably comes from the fact that he wasn't famous yet, the rest are big names who want to come and play the insane improv game:

Danny Trejo (one of the world's most hardcore people) as the wise advice giving barman
Jack Black as the crazed dog punting Hell's Angel
and then we reach the rival anchors.
Vince Vaughn
Tim Robbins
Luke Wilson (oddly, losing his arms a lot)
and Ben Stiller all partake in the most surreal moment of the whole film (more surreal than even Jazz flute)

The Anchorman fight to the death. It starts as a simple gang rumble between Ron's team and Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn)'s team - as the other anchormen (see cameo list above) join the fight escalates until we have a man on fire, men on horseback, Brick running around with a live grenade and Brick stabbing a man through the heart. With a trident.
Even in a film as ridiculous as this, it still stands out as a truly insane moment and it must have been a lot of fun to do.

I could continue to explain other inspired set pieces and describe them as insane or genius, however I wouldn't be adding anything new to the blog. All I can say is watch it, because it is brilliant.
What the film does manage to do is show a very funny, witty satire of the chauvinistic world of 70s television. It is actually a comedy about women's liberation and equality, and about quite a massive landmark in televisual history. However it is hidden amongst many layers of demented nonsense. Like a wise jewel, in the middle of a bonkers onion.

You Stay Classy... Planet Earth

No comments: