Releasing DVDs of comedies with some variation of the label “Unrated” is slowly becoming a trend I am beginning to despise. When the DVD of the new Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy hit shelves, this time not only is the DVD “Unrated” and “Uncut”, it’s also “Uncalled for”...how ironic…because the movie itself is mediocre enough to wear the latter as more of a warning than a clever advertising gimmick.
Also attached to this “Unrated” disc is a nice little cash-in from the Dreamworks DVD gurus. Since Anchorman was so successful and since there is apparently a ton of stuff left on the cutting room floor, what is a DVD department to do? What do you do when you have a successful film? Like Dreamworks does here, you milk it. Being touted as “The Lost Movie”, Anchorman: Wake-Up Ron Burgundy is by no means a “Volume II”, but rather a kind of Cliff Notes for its theatrical cousin.
After 2003's surprise hit Elf, it is no shock that “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Ferrell is a hot commodity in the comedy department. His follow up to that holiday hit is Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a mildly amusing take on local television news broadcasters in the seventies.
Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and San Diego’s channel four news team, Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), has been an all boys club for years. When young upstart Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) enters the fray and slowly rises into Burgundy’s shoes, “Team 4" must band together to try and drive Veronica out of the news biz by showing her who is boss, but “times they are a changing” and it’s only a matter of time until Corningstone earns her place as one of the boys.
With every scene being played over the top, Anchorman is nothing more than a one joke spoof with hardly enough room to stand firm. I can deal with overall silliness and the all out ludicrousness, but there just seems to be too much going on that makes the film hard to even follow. The only extremely funny “character” in the movie is Steve Carell’s “Brick Tamland”. Carell has already made a career as a mock newscaster, appearing in both Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty with this character type. How is it that the one person typecast for this movie is funnier than the rest of these very talented actors?
The whole theme of the seventies is starting to get old. This seventies-retro comedy thing died with the Austin Powers series. Now it’s just beginning to act as an excuse to make jokes about modern ways of life, technology, and to have weird hair. This whole motif is wasted. Other than the advent of a woman in the newsroom, there is no reason this film has to take place during this given time, at least no reason I can see.
Will Ferrell is a funny guy. I’ve defended him since his first season on SNL when the “new cast” took over after the Farley, Hartman, Myers, and Sandler era ended. His movie career has all but begun to really take shape and now after the brilliance that was Elf, Anchorman is just a step down of where he could and should be.
It’s not that I didn’t like the movie; it’s just that there was so much wasted potential. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a comedy, and comedies are supposed to be funny. With such a vast group of talent such as this thrown together, having the end result just be just mildly amusing is, without a doubt, extremely disappointing. Hopefully co-writer Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay can get it together for their next collaborated effort: this summer’s Bewitched.
Regardless of me not responding well to the movie, this “Unrated” disc does have a lot to offer. Most of which end up being even funnier than the movie itself.
First off there is a mock music video featuring the “Channel 4 New Team” singing “Afternoon Delight”. Full of vast video clichés and period related humor, it actually comes across as a rather well put together video. The team singing the song acapella in the movie is a highlight of the film itself, but watching the video adds to their harmonic brilliance.
Despite having a handful of “Bloopers” attached with the end credits, there are loads more on this disc, most of which include each cast member simply cracking up with whatever made up line they spit out or just simply one person having the case of the giggles. It’s definitely a real treat watching Will Ferrell actually succumb to another’s impromptu insanity. Mixed with the bloopers are a series of Deleted Scenes. Most of which are really just alternate takes with different ad-libbed punch lines.
“The Making of Anchorman” featurette at first is just a hilarious standard “making of” kind of thing. Cast members rant about the film and how fun it is and then all of a sudden it turns into this attempted comedic thing of having everyone be ego maniacs and complaining about how hard it is to work with one another. No consistency, but there are a few minor laughs here.
As a bit of a sketch, there is a “Ron Burgundy ESPN Audition”. Complete with Will Ferrell in Burgundy get up on a period set making fun of the idea of a sports network. Other Burgundy-in-the-outside-world features includes an interview with Rebecca Romeijn-Stamos from the 2004 MTV Movie awards and a Q&A session with Burgundy at the Museum of Television and radio.
The commentary on this disc, touted “The Almost Uncensored Commentary with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell” is both the funniest and most laziest commentary I’ve ever heard. It starts off as the two push the censors’ buttons as far as what they can get away with saying. They purposely curse up a storm only being bleeped when the tone gets sexual. They easily can say “That is fucking great” or “dick salad” but get censored when going into details concerning some movie involving a polar bear going down a mule. Then out of nowhere there are guest appearances, both in studio and via telephone. The commentary turns into a radio show all of a sudden, with Andy Richter, recording artist Lou Rawls, Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass, and cast members David Koechner, Paul Rudd, and Christina Applegate all in one big battle royal of a commentary. What is most apparent though is that they did not record the commentary watching the film in one sitting. Breaks are obviously taken and within a couple of seconds there is a “See you later” and “Welcome back”. I haven’t gone anywhere, why are you welcoming me back? It’s a ninety minute movie, is it that hard to sit through the whole thing? I think not.
Like I said before, attached to this “Unrated” edition is a second film, making up “the continued adventures” of Ron Burgundy: Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the local news, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) returns with his band of eccentric buddies for an “all new” adventure in the world of goofy seventies news reporting.
With their eyes on Network news in the future, San Diego’s anchor team of Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are hot on the trail of a news story plaguing the streets of San Diego. The hostile political movement, known as “The Alarm Clock”, starts reeking havoc on the city robbing banks to fund their motives. The crack news team must break the story and hunt out the identities of the group and expose them before they expose themselves courtesy of Mr. Burgundy.
While suffering from the same drawbacks as the original theatrically released film, this “follow up” is quite possibly the very worst pseudo sequel ever. As much as it claims to be, this is not a continued adventure. Wake-Up Ron Burgundy is nothing more than a collection of deleted scenes and alternate takes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy sewn together with narration and a left out story element included to make it seem like a follow up. The worst part about this is that a majority of the alternate takes already appear on the deleted scenes or blooper reel of the first film, as well as appearing a majority of the theatrical trailers. Some parts are kind of funny, but it is so obvious that this deleted stuff was collectively edited to make a quick buck.
It is also apparent that most of the material is from the same movie in many scenes. Veronica has two “First stories” and they are both about the same cat fashion show, only this time it serves as a kind of plot point. In the spirit of The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, why didn’t the Unrated/Uncut version of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy use some of the takes from this version with the bulk of “The Alarm Clock” elements left in. Then it might have been pretty good structurally and an actual Uncut version of the film, but here as a separate “story” it’s just a big mess.
It is a waste of material, people’s money, and people’s time to get suckered into having to buy this to sit through, essentially, another ninety minutes of deleted scenes. A bad move on Dreamworks part if you ask me.
But wait….there is more…
The Wake-Up disc has its own special features embedded on it. Features that include EVEN MORE deleted scenes, outtakes, and much more that could have been stuffed on a just a simple second disc on the “Unrated” edition.
Like the “Unrated” disc, the deleted scenes and bloopers consist of alternate ad-libs and total on set buffoonery from the cast. “Ron Burgundy’s Award Speech” is a series of different takes where Ron Burgundy won Emmys for his news work. The speech is shown in Wake-Up Ron Burgundy for a few seconds on a TV monitor, here we get to see the two entirely filmed Will Ferrell stereotypical awards rants in their uncomfortable entirety.
Also tacked on here are more interviews from the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. Where the “Unrated” version simply had one interview with Rebecca Romeijn-Stamos, this disc includes the other two interviews with legendary actor Burt Reynolds and The Passion of the Christ’s Jim Caviezel.
The most interesting of features, on the both the discs, is the Cast auditions and rehearsals. It’s a home video look at various scenes from both movies, in their purest and most unpredictable form. From the beginning it is apparent that the crew became comfortable at improvising entire newscasts before even committing anything to film. With scripts in their hands, the cast is simply just having a blast in some rented out office space.
The most mind-boggling of features on the Wake-Up disc, however, is the “Introduction to the film” with Will Ferrell and Aaron Zimmerman. Usually when there is an introduction to the movie it takes place before the movie, showing the people introducing whatever film is being introduced, followed by the movie. Here it’s more of a commentary for the film. Ferrell and Zimmerman debate of Zimmerman’s actual involvement with the film for the first twelve minutes of the movie, and then the movie simply continues as if there was no commentary what so ever. Either you are an introduction or a commentary, you can’t be both. And if you are both....at least finish up the rest of the movie with a commentary rather than just shutting down twelve minutes in.
Overall there are a lot of goodies to play with on these discs, but sadly Wake-Up Ron Burgundy is just a studio cash in that will take advantage of every ounce of your soul if you even touch the thing on a DVD shelf let alone take it home with you. Avoid this so-called “sequel”, and only look at Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy if you can tolerate a one joke schtick for two hours.