Some may see him as an overly stuffed anchorman with a porn star mustache and a crazy coif that requires more hairspray than the cast of Cats. But he sees himself as more than that. Much more. So much more that he thinks of himself as a god. A god of the newsroom―born to read a teleprompter and clearly enunciate every t and p of world events with the skill of a Roman orator.
That godishness is what won him his position behind the news desk. It earned the adoration of every Tom, Dick and Harry to ever gaze upon a cathode ray tube. And it entranced and secured his beautiful wife, Veronica. He's a hero, you see. Which … was … why … Ron Burgundy was shocked, shocked I tell you, when he got abruptly fired from his job and his dear Veronica was offered the nightly news anchor slot at WBC.
It didn't get Ron down, though. It may have made him a drunk and a man on the verge of suicide who stammered his way every day through a porpoise act introduction at SeaWorld, but his spirit was never broken, no sir. And sure enough, six months after his great humiliation, a news producer walks up to Ron and begs him to join his station.
Turns out that a company called GNN is starting a full-time 24/7 news channel. Of course Ron knows it's an outrageously idiotic idea. But it beats sexually assaulting starfish (don't ask and I'll try not to tell), and it gives him a shot at the bright lights of anchordom glory once again.
Now all he needs is to gather his former crew of news/weather/sports sidekicks and fly to the Big Apple. New York, the city of apple trees on every corner and the spot for Ron's resurrection.
Some might worry that there's not enough news in the world to sustain a 24-hour broadcast. And Ron's crew is concerned that their 2 a.m. time slot will be nearly invisible. But Ron has a plan. If they run out of exciting news, he will create exciting news. He will give the masses what they want. He will wave a flag and shed a tear. The bleary drunks at the bar and the insomniac housewives chewing on chips will be riveted or his name isn't Ron Burgundy!
Because he's a god. He is Ron Burgundy. The Ron Burgundy.
Ron and Veronica both make choices designed to help them get closer to their son. Ron walks away from a big news story once in order to watch his son's school concert. Veronica takes care of Ron when he goes blind for a time. (And doesn't that completely compensate for them, say, getting divorced for the sake of career advancements? Or openly taking other lovers and talking crudely about sex in front of their boy?)
A friend of Ron's owns a fried chicken restaurant—in which he refuses service to "Catholics and Jews." Ron starts to bargain for God's help in rebooting his career, but decides to give up when he realizes it's pointless since he won't live up to his end of the deal anyway. Later, when he accidentally goes blind, Ron cries out, "Why did you do this to me, God?" And he says he'll manipulate the viewing public by telling them that America is "the greatest country God ever created."
The ghost of a Civil War general pops up in one scene, as do other supernatural-style creatures. (More on that a bit later.)
A woman's shirt gets ripped, exposing her bra. Ron gives a friend his choice of condoms for an upcoming encounter, and he details the advantages of several types. A couple makes out at a Laundromat, her skirt hiked up and her underwear-clad backside pressed up against a window.
Ron and Veronica both take on sideline lovers. Ron's is his boss, Linda. She initially pins him up against an office window, caressing him and forcing him to make sexual animal sounds. Later they take their misdeeds to his apartment where they start undressing, embracing, groping and kissing. (Both end up naked, mostly covered by a sheet.) A cohort reports that, thanks to their newfound fame, he's had lots of new sexual encounters, including a romp where he gave "Florence Henderson crabs."
Sleazy sexual quips run wild, ranging from Ron noting that he's been so lonely he paid a "hobo to spoon-whip" him, to him crudely commenting on the awkward details of an encounter with a "she/he." We hear about how much hair his 6-year-old son has on his "nugs." Mentions are made of the appeal all-nude strip clubs have and the "fact" that the U.N. uses the national census as a way to turn American kids gay. Ron describes the trouble he's having masturbating (while blind). And he has a habit of making random exclamations that "excel" at turning sexual subjects and objects into crude catchphrases (hymens and nipples among them).
One sexual encounter triggers a news report about …
… an angry actress who cut off her husband's penis. Ron tries to hang himself, but the lighting fixture he ties a rope to can't support his weight and he crashes down to the floor. A motor home wreck tosses Ron and a buddy around inside. Scalding oil sears one guy's face, another is thumped in the head with a bowling ball, a third is slammed in the crotch. A scorpion clamps down on Ron's tongue.
Ron gets into a fistfight with Linda; she hits him so hard in the groin that he's left whimpering on the floor. After mouthing off to Linda's family members, Ron shows up in his car with bruises and a cut on his face.
A face-off between Ron and another reporter turns into a massive cartoonish battle as newsmen from all over show up to join in the free-for-all: People, ghosts and mythical creatures like Minotaurs, too, start bashing, shooting and hacking at one another with axes, blades, hockey sticks, sharp teeth and futuristic weaponry. A beastie gets its arm blown off, a ghost sucks up someone's soul, a guy has his eye plucked out, another gets an arrow in the back, etc. Eventually, a pair of military jets swoop in to strafe the area.
Someone accidentally drops a sparkler in a pool of gasoline and blows up a city block. Among other things, a shark gobbles up another fish, turning the water red. Ron loses his eyesight after thumping his head on the ground in a bizarre jazz-flute accident. (But aren't all the "accidents" in Anchorman movies bizarre?)
Crude or Profane Language
Two f-words and a dozen s-words are joined by around 10 uses each of "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "b‑‑ch." God's and Jesus' names are abused a dozen times (with God's combined with "d‑‑n" at least four times). We hear "bloody," along with crude references to male and female genitalia.
Drug and Alcohol Content
After getting fired, Ron drunkenly staggers through his new job at SeaWorld. He and his buds all drink beer when they reunite. Ron and Linda have wine with dinner. Veronica drinks too.
As part of a news story, Ron and his fellows smoke crack while broadcasting. (They're arrested for doing so.) Ron later reports smoking the stuff at least seven or eight times more. He's pumped full of sedatives. Linda smokes a cigarette.
Other Negative Elements
If the joke is dirty, it can clean up at this Anchorman desk. Racist, sexist and racist-sexist gag lines abound, none of which are worth even trying to relay here. A weatherman friend of Ron's is set up to look feebleminded and maybe insane. And he's matched up with a woman who seems to share his state of mind. (It's all played for laughs.)
Low comedy has been with us forever. From ancient Greek theater to randy Shakespearean asides to farcical burlesque winks to Saturday Night Live foolishness, the use of useless buffoonery and raffish antics to evoke a surprised chuckle or shocked guffaw is nothing new.
The problem with that brand of rib-tickling, however, is that it really only "works" in small doses. And our modern-day version has a tendency to blow past a random stab at the risible to become something much more manically constant.
Pics like Anchorman 2 feel more like a Gatling gun barrage of joke-a-second absurdities and crude nonsense. It's all part of a throw-it-up-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks formula that gets harder and harder to sit through as a two-hour storyline meanders on and on and on and on into territory that's meaninglessly strange, regularly crass and deliberately doltish. Ron Burgundy's random expletives and racist fatuousness, the overlong explorations of sleazy side topics and the hectic lurch toward all things crude drain this flick of any charm or creativity it might have managed while it backhands the birth of the 24-hour TV infotainment news cycle.
A postscript: While making my way out of the Anchorman 2 screening I attended for this review, I overheard one viewer gush, "That was stupid-funny!" To which his friend raised an eyebrow and wittily replied off the cuff, "I agree … at least halfway."
Now that's funny.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy; Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone; Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana; Steve Carell as Brick Tamland; Kristen Wiig as Chani; James Marsden as Jack Lime; Meagan Good as Linda Jackson
Adam McKay (The Other Guys, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
December 18, 2013
Bob Hoose Bob Hoose