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And So, It Begins Again

and Movie Review: "Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy"

There's not much to be said that hasn't already been discussed here, in the mainstream media, or by any of the rest of the Cubs Blog Army.

Apart from Alex Gonzalez and Todd Hollandsworth, the Cubs take the field tonight with the team they had envisioned on Opening Day. Granted, that leaves a fairly gaping hole at SS, and another with not having a good left-handed bat on the bench (and it appears Hollandsworth may not play through the weekend, at least), and those are things we hope Jim Hendry will address before the month is over.

This gives me the opportunity to briefly tell you about "Anchorman", which I knew beforehand had gotten mediocre reviews, but being in the TV news business, and having started in it in the early 1980's, just after the mid-to-late 1970's era depicted in the movie, I had to go see it.

The character of Ron Burgundy, a San Diego anchorman, is loosely based on several different local anchors of that era, and though it seems like a stereotype, it was true -- there were men like that, who assumed nearly deity-like status in their cities, since in most cities there were only a few broadcast stations, in the era B. C. (Before Cable), and these men read the news alone, or with other men only. There were such men here in Chicago and in many other places in that era, and there was great resistance when managers started putting women on the air, because, as the news director in the movie said, "times are changing".

OK, this is a serious subject, but Will Ferrell as Burgundy (the name itself is a play on the name "Harold Greene", a long-time anchorman who is still working in Los Angeles) plays it for laughs, and he gets some. He is so over-the-top that you think it's ridiculous when he winds up homeless, and yet, a man named Ron Hunter, who used to be an anchorman here in Chicago, fell so far that when he was a radio host in New Orleans, wound up being arrested for shoplifting about $4 worth of merchandise.

Burgundy's downfall begins when Veronica Corningstone (played absolutely straight by Christina Applegate) comes to work for the station and immediately sets out to become an anchor. Threatened, Burgundy woos (and wins) her, but there's more to it than this. Sometimes this seems real, other times forced, and maybe that's the way it was supposed to be, reflecting the times.

The plot is absolutely ridiculous, as are the clothes worn by the all-male news team (sports guy in a cowboy hat, and everyone wearing awful colors and even worse ties), and the weatherman is so dumb he doesn't have even one line that isn't a non sequitur -- you almost feel sorry for Steven Carell, the actor playing the appropriately named "Brick"). There are some even weirder scenes involving the competition between the local news teams, including a fight scene reminiscent of the gang fight in "West Side Story" -- and I won't ruin this for those of you who want to see it by revealing the names of the well-known actors who make cameos in this scene as competing anchormen.

I loved the way silly songs of the 70's were weaved into the plot, all so appropriate, reminding those of us who lived through the era how plastic it was. And the "walking anchor team" promo that was made for the Channel 4 San Diego news team -- was identical in format to one that was made for the news team at my station, ABC-7 Chicago, back in that era. Ferrell, who co-wrote the screenplay, did his homework well.

This movie isn't great, and at times it's really stupid, and I really can't recommend it unless you're in the media business, or are interested in its history, or you lived through the '70s. It's not a bad movie, just not a very good one.

AYRating: **