Release Date:  July 9, 2004
Rating:  PG-13 (for sexual humor, language and comic violence)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time: 90 minutes
Director:  Adam McKay
Actors:  Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Stephen Carrell, David Koechner, Fred Willard

Okay. Who gave Ben Stiller my address? Or am I just cursed? I know it’s a Will Ferrell movie, but somehow, Ben is everywhere, and I’m starting to get just a little suspicious.

I should have trusted my instincts. After all, the previews made this movie look pretty retarded, and that is Ben’s specialty.  Well, sure enough, there he was, staring up at me in another evil cameo. The poop jokes could not be far behind.

The plot of this movie, as thin as it is, has anchorman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) parading around a San Diego newsroom like the grand poobah of macho. It’s the '70s, when men supposedly had bad hair, drank and made sex jokes all day long at the office. Gee, I guess I missed that era. No wait, it was California. That explains it.

At a pool party – where people walk around in their underwear, by the way – Ron tries to pick up an attractive blonde (Christina Applegate). She rebuffs him for his crassness. The next day, the egotistical anchor learns that the woman, Ms. Veronica Corningstone, has just joined the team at the television station.

Veronica’s fellow reporters, including self-proclaimed stud/cologne aficionado Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), cowboy sportscaster Champ Kind (Steve Carell) and mentally handicapped weatherman Brick Tamland (David Koechner), sexually harass, abuse and try to seduce Veronica, but she is unimpressed. Then, inexplicably, she falls for Ron. They have sex, and the next day he announces that they are sleeping together on the air.

Veronica wants to be the first female news anchor in the country, and when a freak accident causes Ron to miss the evening newscast, she gets her chance. Veronica becomes an overnight success – the equivalent of a war declaration for Ron, who dumps her and does everything he can to get her fired. Veronica fights back, however, and pulls a stunt that gets Ron fired. His fall is fast and furious.

Director Adam McKay has very little experience as a director, and it shows. Ferrell, on the other hand, who wrote the script with McKay, does have experience – lots of it – and can be quite funny, as he was in “Elf.” However, the former “Saturday Night Live” actor can’t seem to shed the crass, and this film really takes the cake. It’s supposed to be a parody, of course, but somehow, the few references to '70s culture get lost amid the muck of sex jokes that are too inappropriate to even allude to.

Oddly enough, there’s a very violent scene that is somehow supposed to be funny, where rival news teams fight like modern gangs. Several get stabbed and one has his arm sliced off in a gruesome shot. This is where my dear friend Mr. Stiller makes his appearance, but not to be outdone in retarded comedy cameos, he is joined by other comics du jour like Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Tim Robbins also makes an uncredited appearance. Owen Wilson was not in attendance, however – which is odd. I didn’t know they allowed Ben to make movies without Owen. 

There’s a strong feminist message about how terrible women were treated before they became equals (or almost equals) in the business world – which is probably true – as well as a really vicious jab at President Bush and his administration. Mostly, however, “Anchorman” is an R-rated SNL skit that goes on for 90 long minutes. I say R-rated because that’s what the Motion Picture Association of America slapped it with, until Ferrell and McKay took out just enough to get it to PG-13. Like most films with this rating, however, it’s pure R, including lots of profanities, obscenities and even one f-word.

If you find yourself howling with laughter throughout “Saturday Night Live” skits every weekend, then you’ll really bust a gut with this one. Be sure to take your whoopee cushion to the theatre. Otherwise, bypass this like a white polyester suit.

Meanwhile, if you see Ben Stiller, tell him I know what he’s up to.

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