Another film in the category of movies I once thought funny but have since changed my mind on because of the growth I experienced in my Faith life is Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), henceforth just Anchorman. Chalk it up to me sort of going along with the crowd as a reason for me enjoying it at one time. It is funny how much your sensibilities change when you decide to live for the Lord instead of by the dictates of what society says is cool. I cannot say I ever truly gave myself over to what was trendy, but I laughed along with everyone else at some parts of this film that have since become widely recognizable. When watching it again recently, I I thought I was going to chuckle as heartily as I once did, but instead sat mostly stoic through its run-time. There were a couple of moments I found humorous, but overall it was an indication of how different I now am thanks to my relationship with God. While I do still sometimes find crude things funny (a failing I have yet to completely shake), when something is as over-the-top irreverent as this one, I tend to be bored.
The title character in Anchorman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), is, as suggested, a legend. It is not for being a mythical warrior, or a poet, or whatever else we attach such meaning to, but for being the lead anchor for San Diego’s Channel 4 news during the 1970s. He is in love with himself, and his status, and in a male dominated work environment, he is king. Things begin to change, though, when his station hires its first female reporter, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Each of the members of the news team decides in their machismo to make a pass at Veronica, their sole purpose being to take a beautiful woman to bed. Each of these passes are ridiculous and misogynistic in their own ways, and she dismisses each of them out of hand. Ron’s attempt appears to be headed towards failure as well. He invites Veronica to his office and when she shows up, he is shirtless and lifting weights. When she begins to walk off in a huff, he quickly back pedals and offers to show her around town strictly as co-workers. Of course, he has other intentions, but their coupling leads to deeper feelings on both their parts for each other. Unfortunately, he has yet to let go of his thoughts on how women should be subservient to men. Thus, when he runs late one day due to an incident with a motorcyclist punting his dog off a bridge, Veronica is forced to fill-in for Ron on camera. This enrages him because he is not used to sharing the spotlight, and it sends him into a bitter stretch of revenge pranks. She finishes this feud one night, though, when she has the producers put a curse word into Ron’s sign-off, knowing that he will read whatever is on the teleprompter. Ed Harken (Fred Willard), Ron’s boss, is forced to fire Ron, sending the once untouchable news anchor into spiral of depression. What brings him back is the biggest story of the year, a panda giving birth at the San Diego Zoo. Upon arriving on the scene, the Public Television Reporter (Tim Robbins) pushes Veronica into the grizzly bear pen. Not wanting to cry out for fear of waking the hibernating bruins, she remains there while everyone carries on without knowing of her situation. In desperation Ed calls for Ron to return to cover the story. Like Superman changing in a phone booth, he quickly doffs his depression clothes and beard, and once more becomes the familiar, well-quaffed anchorman. Before he appears before the cameras, he also saves Veronica, and together they give the story as co-anchors. The film closes with both of them fulfilling their dreams of becoming network anchors.
Anchorman is not a terribly complicated movie, but then again it is a comedy. Disguised in all the sexist and poop jokes is a plot where Ron goes from being a male chauvinist to somewhat less of a male chauvinist. So, I guess that is something? Here is what I still find funny: when Veronica goes out on the town with Ron for the first time, she explains her decision to do so (despite her better judgement) as “when in Rome.” Apparently, he had never heard this particular idiom for going along with whatever the locals are doing, and he spends the rest of film not understanding how to properly use it. The other moments I chuckled at are when Ed is on the phone with his son, or some authority figure in regards to his son, and the terrible things that his child is doing. They are ludicrous situations, but at least they are not lingered on unlike so many other jokes in the movie. And . . . that is about it. The rest I can do without. There are references to pornography and examples of what is commonly referred to as “dirty” behavior. These are a little more familiar, unfortunately. However, re-watching this film with where I am currently at in my Faith life made me realize how much sensitive I am to certain lines. This reached its zenith when one of Ron’s news team members, Champ Kind (David Koechner), tries to stop Ron from saving Veronica. Before jumping into the bear pen, he says that God wants her dead. Again, because this is a comedy, such a thing is not meant to be taken seriously. Still, I think about how out of phase that is with what God would really want that it gives me pause and makes me question whether or not such a film should be watched.
Ultimately, I am sure most of you have already seen Anchorman. You probably look back fondly on the film, remembering all your favorite parts. And I suppose I should add that I still find Brick Tamland’s (Steve Carell) character mildly funny. Overall, I cannot say I will ever willingly see this movie again. I have had this experience more than once. Try it some time. Think about a movie you once thought was good and re-watch it. You might be surprised by the result.
2 thoughts on “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, by Albert W. Vogt III”