BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
In the 1970s, San Diego’s favorite anchorman Ron Burgundy delivered the nightly news with the debonair sign-off, “You stay classy, San Diego.” Burgundy (Will Ferrell) rules the local airwaves as well as the kingdom of the Channel 4 boys’ club until an ambitious blond named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) joins the network and gives Burgundy a run for his money.
Veronica dreams of being news anchor. But in a man’s world no one takes her talent as seriously as her physical assets. One at a time, members of Ron’s news team make a pass at the savvy Veronica and strike out with style. But when Ron offers to show Veronica around town, she accepts—if they keep it strictly professional. Ron agrees but reminds her that they can still “make it fun.” First stop is a romantic view of San Diego from his parked car.
Next we see them dining at a restaurant lounge where the band lures Ron into playing his jazz flute, which he’s just happened to bring. Ron jumps on the table and gets jazzy Jethro Tull style. And Veronica falls in love.
What works in this movie are the vapid but God-like Burgundy who reads everything on the teleprompter, the gaudy polyester suits, the frustrated Veronica reporting on cat fashion shows, and the love interest between Ron and Veronica that turns to war. There are also some clever gang-style confrontations between rival news teams including several celebrity cameos. And Burgundy’s brainless sidekick Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) steals the show.
Anchorman is a fun parody of the 1970s local news world, where co-writer Will Ferrell makes the comedy come alive. But in my humble opinion, the promising script is a work in progress that needs one more revision to break the 50 percent batting average on the punch lines. My money says Tina Fey could have worked the dialogue and batted the script out of the ballpark.