“Anchorman”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0357413/, “Will Ferrell”:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002071/’s paean to the forgotten elements of ’70s sitcoms and action shows, is a deeply weird movie. If the picture weren’t so hilarious at virtually all moments, the world would now be seriously doubting Ferrell’s sanity. Or at least accusing him of being French.
_Anchorman_ is built around the story of a stereotypical ’70s local news anchor. This is not a premise that, on its surface, offers a lot of room for plot, action, stuff like that. And, indeed, the movie is light on plot; but, as in “Dodgeball”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364725/, there’s so much attention to detail that things never drag or seem aimless.
This film is made by its details, both big and small. The big details come in the characters, who have consistent, predictable, and always hilarious manners of behavior; even the smallest tics are attended to, with an eye to the absurd. The homosexual sports anchor, the autistic weatherman; both are characters whose traits aren’t just plot devices.
The small details are what really make the movie a winner. Thanks to cable, we can all see classic ’70s TV like CHiPs and Fantasy Island; these shows all used certain plot devices, certain activities, and certain stereotypical characters as stock elements. The token Latino, the West Side Story-style gangs, women’s lib, Roman gladiators — all of these things are standbys reused as subtle plot elements in _Anchorman_. The overall effect is deeply wierd, an effect only enhanced by jokes about dogs punted off of bridges and whale vaginas, and, of course, the endless series of cameos by trendy comedians (in a movie about sexism, there are no comediennes…).
The jokes merit special mention. All jokes are absurd, and each is hilarious in and of itself, absent any context. It’s a testament to the professionalism of the actor in this movie that any lines at all were delivered with a straight face. These are funny, funny one-liners, in a Pythonesque way.
_Anchorman_ just works. I’m sure, in fifteen years, we’ll be wondering what drugs everybody was on to make this movie; but it sure works. After watching it, you may ask yourself “what just happened”? I know I was confused. But who cares? _Anchorman_ was one heck of a funny film.