Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – Blu-ray Review

The last time I watched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy it was when it was released on HD DVD (remember those?) back in 2007. When I first saw it in theaters, back in 2004, I walked away unimpressed. Loved the Ron Burgundy character, but it just didn’t work as a movie. Since its release, the comedy’s cult status has grown to epic proportions. Its cultishness was so great that the American Film Institute had to recognize it as the greatest movie ever made. The news came as a disappointment to Ricky Bobby, as his favorite film, Highlander, didn’t even make the top 100.

While Anchorman does seem like a five-minute SNL sketch that has been extended to a 90-minute movie, it is endlessly quotable. I’m not saying that telling ladies your testicles are named James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater is the right move, but you never know; it could be one hell of an icebreaker.

Skewering the landscape of broadcast news, the comedy has no ideals about being “fair and balanced.” Instead, it’s about the changing of the times, when the men-only establishment had to welcome women into the fold. Set in 1970s, the golden era for news anchors, this autobiographical tale – only the names, dates and places have been changed – of Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) goes the distance at parodying news broadcasters. Burgundy is beloved by all of San Diego. His prime-time news telecast is number one, and women just fawn over him. He’s shallow and egotistical and not overly bright. But he sure knows how to read copy off the teleprompter. Also a part of his San Diego news team is sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner), on-the-scene correspondent Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). Bad moustache and all, Paul Rudd alone would be enough support for this Adam McKay-directed comedy. But it may just be a pre-40-year-old-virgin Steve Carell who is the ultimate scene-stealer. His weatherman character is but a few points shy of being legally retarded, hence the name Brick, as in being as dumb as a.

Soon the male-oriented workplace gets a dose of diversity, much to the dismay of the news team. The working girl is Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and she’s no spring chicken when it comes to a sexist newsroom; Veronica knows how to outwit the likes of Fantana and Kind, but Burgundy is another hairy beast altogether. She takes everything in stride, apart from the fact that she’s being regulated to puff pieces about cat fashion shows. Veronica knows she’s more than sexy eye candy for the newsroom.

She gets her chance to shine – thanks in large part to subplot involving Ron, his dog Baxter, a burrito and Jack Black. In fact, some of the subplots have dialogue and action that are funnier than the central story. The rumble between area news teams, including Frat Pack (don’t hear that term used very often anymore) regulars Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller, and a surprise guest offers nothing but uncontrollable laughter. Watching Burgundy’s fall from grace and his uncontrollable weeping is similar to Peter Griffin on Family Guy, where he’ll injure his shin and cry out in agony. Just when you think the scene will end, it continues.

As his debut as a filmmaker, Adam McKay’s comedy may lack the heart found in some of Judd Apatow’s comedies (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up), but as an off-the-wall satire of the evening news it is deserving of its cult status. Seeing it again after the rocky first viewing in 2004, it is better than I remembered. A large part of that is also because I would hear a local sports radio emcee quote it incessantly when he was on the air. And for good measure he would throw in some quotables from Die Hard and The Devil’s Advocate – Al Pacino is devilishly good in that movie.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is just a weird and wild comedy: the only kind that Ferrell and McKay make. With a striking color palate – love Burgundy’s burgundy suit – and ‘70s setting, this movie is best enjoyed nestled up in front of your television with some fondue after some “Afternoon Delight.”

When Anchorman was initially released on DVD, Best Buy had a retailer exclusive that included a bonus disc of goodies. The extra disc was a spin-off movie called Wake Up, Ron Burgundy which consisted of deleted scenes and more subplots (including a bank-robbing gang known as “The Alarm Clock”), but edited in such a way to make it look like it had a coherent narrative – if ever such an idea existed in an Adam McKay comedy.

The exclusive would quickly disappear off the shelves and go out of print. Now, thanks to this “Rich Mahogany” edition Blu-ray release (also a Best Buy exclusive), it’s back. Now fans of the cult hit can enjoy an oversized box that houses the Blu-ray, a booklet (“The Many Months of Ron Burgundy”) and a pack of collectible playing cards (12 total). The first disc contains two cuts of the movie: the original theatrical cut (94 minutes) and a longer, unrated cut (97 minutes). The second disc has the spin-off movie and so many features, including some that have never been seen before.

Anchorman has a strong 1080p transfer (1.85:1 aspect ratio) and it is quite impressive. As a period comedy, it has a lush visual style with great composition in scenery and color selection. Colors are striking and the skin tones look natural. Great example is the pool party at the beginning. Pause it right before Will Ferrell does his cannonball and look at the detail in his face.

The transfer does have a layer of grain, but imperfections are hardly noticeable. You’d have to sit a foot away to really see them.

As for the audio, this comedy is light on action-heavy sequences – this isn’t a Michael Bay production, okay – but the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix handles everything in stride. Dialogue heavy, the comedy is big on talking, and with the mix everything sounds crisp and clear. Even subtle jabs are easily distinguishable.

As far as surround sound goes, it isn’t used often. If you want an example of full sound, check out the pool party scene as well as the rumble between the competing news teams. That and ‘70s specific pop songs sound great.

There are also French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks available, and subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Okay. I hope you have some scotch and cigarettes because this next bit could take a while. This Blu-ray of Anchorman has all of extras that were on the original DVD, the Best Buy bonus disc with Wake Up, Ron Burgundy as well as some new extras that are exclusive to this “Rich Mahogany” edition.

  • Feature Commentary with McKay, Ferrell, Andy Ritcher (not in the movie), Kyle Gass (not in the movie), Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, and, American jazz legend Lou Rawls. Huh? Perhaps someone coerced him into thinking it was a commentary for Jazzman: The Legend of Lou Rawls. This track may not have the same genius of Ferrell and McKay’s musical commentary track for Step Brothers, but fans will no doubt get a kick out of it.

Note: All extras, besides Wake Up, Ron Burgundy and the teaser and theatrical trailers are presented in standard definition.

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (53:56 overall) I don’t know if there’s an actual number for the number of feet of footage shot during Anchorman, but if there was it would probably be just behind a Lord of the Rings movie in terms of length. All of these deletions and extensions are completely separate from the spin-off movie – a movie that is also made up of deleted scenes and abandoned subplots.

  • Bloopers (7:46) More like outtakes than anything else. Check out Will and Christina’s make-out scene.

  • “Afternoon Delight” Music Video (3:50) The movie features a scene where Ron Burgundy and the boys have an impromptu music moment set to this song about getting busy in the middle part of the day. Now this is a music video, also with Ron and the boys, and Veronica, too.

  • ESPN Audition (1:55) Funny bit with Ron Burgundy auditioning to be an anchor for some four-letter sports network that’s pronounced “es pen.” Best moment is probably when Burgundy says that the network will be a “financial and cultural disaster.” Well, he was right about the cultural disaster part. Who can forget about the chunks of prime programming real estate dedicated to “Brett Favre: Will He or Won’t He?” and that LeBron thing.

  • Wake Up, Ron Burgundy (1:32:53) Previously only available on DVD as a Best Buy exclusive, this flm of cutting-floor scenes has quite a bit of star presence with the likes of SNL alum Maya Rudolph, Chuck D and Justin Long.

  • Intro-Commentary (12:00) For Wake Up, Ron Burgundy there’s a short commentary track by Will Ferrell and “third listed executive producer” Aaron Zimmerman (aka Adam McKay in character).

  • PSAs (3:41 overall) Five brief public service announcements about hippies and other ‘70s staples.

  • Awards Speech (3:12) I never knew this existed. Ron Burgundy’s 1970 Emmy Award speech that was cut from the original telecast. Not really, but he’s making an ass out of himself and he’s taking his late father down with him.

  • MTV Movie Award Interviews (10:14 overall) In 2004, Ron Burgundy got to interview three celebrities for the 2004 MTV Movie Awards: Rebecca Romijin, Jim Caviezel, and Burt Reynolds. What’s funny is that Ron Burgundy looks the same here as he did when he auditioned for SportsCenter in 1979. The Caviezel interview is a gas, because Burgundy is completely lost after Caviezel tells him that he’s not Jesus.

  • Specials These are three, EPK style looks at the comedy. “Cinemax: The Making of Anchorman” (9:29) and “Comedy Central Reel Comedy – Anchorman” (8:31) are too similar in content. But “A Conversation with Ron Burgundy” (16:41) is hosted by Anchorman narrator Bill Kurtis. Together he and Ron Burgundy have a short conversation in front an audience.

  • Rehearsals (9:09) More footage of the cast as they play with their lines and improv bits.

  • Playback Video (5:10) Videos made from Brian Fantana’s remote news stories.

  • Commercial Break (2:04) Nonsense from the set. Most of it involves Paul Rudd walking around the set in his white briefs.

Okay, that above is all the supplemental material that was found on the original DVD and Wake Up, Ron Burgundy DVD release. Now here’s the new stuff:

  • Raw Footage “Good Takes” (39:26) There are 27 total scenes and they are extended and alternate takes. Yes, even alternate to the ones found in the deleted and extended scenes section.

  • “Afternoon Delight” Recording Session (3:12) Footage of Ferrell and the gang recording their rendition of “Afternoon Delight.”

  • Happy Birthday Loews (3:15) A birthday greeting they recorded for the 100th Anniversary of the Loews theater chain (it has since merged with AMC). From the start, Burgundy gets the birthday greeting wrong by celebrating Loews 600th birthday.

  • Cast Auditions (13:03) Footage of various actors auditioning for the movie. Goes to show how on point the casting directors were as the actors (especially Rudd and Justin Long – whose part appears in the spin-off movie) nail their lines and show their adeptness with improv.

  • Alternate Universe (4:38) is found ing the “Cast Auditions” sections and features actors trying out for other roles (ex. Steve Carell as Brian Fantana). Best ones involve Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler auditioning as Veronica Corningstone.

  • Table Read 6/2/03 (18:37) Sadly, not a full-length table read. Instead it is six scenes, but the atmosphere is lively, and it gives you a sense of what the movie will be like at its most basic stages of development.

  • Promotional Material Here you’ll find the teaser (1:50), the theatrical trailer (2:32) and a TV Spot (0:17) that proclaims itself the winner of the weekend box office, even though Spider-Man was victorious.

Usually when a retailer has an exclusive disc, it’s something as simplistic as a short featurette. But with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – The “Rich Mahogany” Edition, in terms of supplemental material, it may be one of the best retailer exclusive titles ever released. With the theatrical cut, unrated version and complete spin-off movie, that alone would make it a good release. Throw in more than hour of exclusive material and some very good picture and sound quality and you’re hedging for a strong recommendation. Anchorman is a cult comedy for a reason. If you decide to pick it up, you best be prepared for a 7 ½ marathon session if you watch all the cuts, the spin-off, listen to the commentary track, and watch all the featurettes. Hope you have a comfortable bean-bag chair.

Paramount Home Entertainment presents Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Directed by: Adam McKay. Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner. Written by: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Running time: 94 minutes/97 minutes. Rating: PG-13/Unrated. Released on Blu-ray: August 31, 2010. Available exclusively at Best Buy.

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