Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm not wearing any pants, film at 11: "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy"

It's not your fault if you can't keep track of all the sophomoric comedies featuring Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller. It's almost like these guys get together once a month and decide which two or three are going to star in the next movie, and which two or three will just have cameos. "Actually, Owen, I'm a little tired right now. Maybe you and Ben can handle this next one. I'll drop by for a day or two, though."

"Anchorman" came out right after Ferrell hit it big with family crowds with "Elf." To that point, he had been a key part of the modern guy-movie classic "Old School" and a supporting player -- usually a hilarious one -- in such fine films as "Zoolander," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and "Austin Powers (I and II)." True, he also was in "Superstar" and "A Night at the Roxbury," but the less said about those, the better.

"Anchorman" didn't exactly build on "Elf," and it's pretty uneven as far as stupid comedies go. The premise: Ferrell leads a San Diego news team that is thrown off-kilter when a woman reporter joins the staff and eventually becomes an anchor herself. That's it, and as you might imagine, it's just an excuse for a series of "funny" scenes to be strung together over 94 minutes.

The verdict: It's no "Old School," that's for sure. I guess it stands along "Dodgeball" as merely OK -- mindless time-killing without being that clever. (Sort of what my wife says about me. Pa dum dum. I'll be here all week, folks.) I actually did laugh at a few scenes and lines, and generally thought Paul Rudd, who plays the station's investigative reporter, was most consistently funny guy. (Watch out for that Sex Panther cologne, made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good.)

As for Ferrell, he's all right as long as he goes all out for a role, and he gives it a shot here. His haughty anchor comes off a bit like the James Lipton impersonation he did on "Saturday Night Live," and the weird exclamations -- i.e. "Beard of Zeus!" -- work only some of the time. But we may have to take what we can get since I understand that in "Bewitched" he's moving more into Tom Hanks territory. Nothing good can come from that. C'mon Will, we're going streaking!


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