“Saturday Night Live” has spawned many stars. They break out from the cast and move off the stage and onto the screen. Chevy Chase began the exodus after the first season. He made lots of movies, most of which are forgettable, and since then there has been a revolving door from Rockefeller Center to Hollywood.
The latest to circle through is Will Ferrell.
Will Ferrell stars in (and co-wrote) “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” It’s a satire of the local news business. Set in the late 1970s, “Anchorman” tells the story of San Diego’s Channel 4 news team.
Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, news anchor. David Koechner is the wild and crazy sports reporter, Champ Kind. Paul Rudd is Brian Fantana, roving reporter, and Steve Carell is Brick Tamland, weatherman.
This group of miscreants, which is being nice, brings the news and keeps a party going almost 24/7. The four don’t have enough brains between them to be even remotely intelligent, but they are thought to be handsome—and they happen to be on the top-rated news channel.
It’s an all-boys club, until Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) comes to the station. She has the wild idea of being a news anchor, even though it’s the 1970s and women haven’t yet broken through the glass ceiling of anchordom.
What follows is a “story” of betrayal, dirty tricks and redemption. The whole movie revolves around Veronica’s attempt to get in the anchor chair as the four guys try to keep her out. Tossed in are subplots of rival news teams street-fighting with Burgundy’s crew. We also see bits of the news broadcasts, with Burgundy showing his greatest weakness: reading anything that is on the TelePrompTer. “Anchorman” is just a bunch of sophomoric jokes and sight gags.
Will Ferrell is not the funniest person in the world. Many have touted his talent, but I fail to see it. There are moments when this movie is funny, but most of those involve Steve Carell’s character. His IQ-challenged Brick Tamland has the funniest lines and scenes in the movie, and the rest of the cast doesn’t stand out.
A number of comedy stars, who aren’t even funny in their own movies, make cameos, but the point seems to be nothing more than the “Wow, isn’t that …” effect.
If this is the type of movie that Ferrell is going to make, he may find himself becoming the latest victim of Chevy Chase syndrome. When Chase moved over, it was apparent he was not that funny; it looks like Ferrell could be in the same mold. Then again, some people find Adam Sandler amusing …
One final thought: A sure sign of a failed movie is the presence of outtakes during the credits. Outtakes are a way of earning cheap laughs that the movie itself can’t produce.
“Anchorman” is so hard up for laughs it has to put an outtake from another movie in the credits. If you hang around long enough to watch the credits, you’ll see Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in an outtake from “Smokey and the Bandit 2.”
How sad when you have to use a bad movie to make your own movie look better.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual humor, language and comic violence.
Directors: Adam McKay
Writers: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Cast: Ron Burgundy: Will Ferrell; Veronica Corningstone: Christina Applegate; Champ Kind: David Koechner; Brick Tamland: Steven Carell; Brian Fantana: Paul Rudd; Ed Harken: Fred Willard; Garth Holliday: Chris Parnell.
The movie’s official Web site is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.