As someone who experienced rather than lived through the seventies, it was difficult to see the proverbial forest from the trees. At the time, I didn’t realize that the music I loved, the clothes I wore, the films I rushed out to see and the television shows I stayed home to watch were lame.

That was then, and looking back it’s easy to see why Hollywood finds plenty to laugh at making fun of the seventies. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was in on the joke, or was the joke. That’s the dilemma facing Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), a self-absorbed teleprompter-reading buffoon who is also San Diego’s highest-rated anchorman. Set in the 1970s, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” finds laughs on two fronts.

The first is in Ferrell’s dead-on portrayal of a naked emperor, a fool who has the entire kingdom believing he’s talented and smart. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fun in Ferrell’s performance is his ability to get us to go along with the impersonation, even rooting for the scoundrel when his rule is being challenged.

Challenger to that throne is new pretty newswoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), and it’s on this front that the film finds its best laughs. Women behind the news desk in the early seventies were rare, and “Anchorman” finds plenty of laughs breaking down that barrier. Because of their domination in the field, Burgundy and his penis posse (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner) have become apathetic to the point of embarrassment. Not only is Corningstone talented, she has something to prove and is willing to put to the boys on notice.

Not that “Anchorman” is making any profound statements, but it’s refreshing that a lowbrow comedy would find humor in something other than boobs and baked goods. The screenplay by Ferrell and director Adam McKay revels in political incorrectness, turning the era of free love and male chauvinism on is head. Ferrell and McKay hilariously articulate the argument that women mature faster than men with frequent lapses of comical judgment.

They even stage a feeding frenzy among other news crews (featuring some familiar faces) that compares men to dogs marking their territory. The allegories are obvious, and Applegate is hilarious as their assumed bitch in heat who ends up having them clipped. Watching Corningstone persevere through the most juvenile behavior reaffirms Applegate’s ability to play smart, calculating blondes.

“Anchorman” isn’t smart funny, but it is damn funny.

Breaking News and Breaking Barriers


Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Kathryn Hahn. Directed by Adam McKay. Rated PG-13. 94 Minutes.


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