Do you remember a time when Will Ferrell’s most prominent roles were as “Frank the Tank” in Old School and as the creepy other brother in A Night at the Roxbury, back when he was known mostly for being really funny on Saturday Night Live? I am talking about a time before Steve Carell was on The Office, when he was just Produce Pete from The Daily Show. That’s right, there was a time when these comedy mega-stars were just on the rise instead of on top of the world.
Then came Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It is perhaps Will Ferrell’s most impressive comedic performance to date, the first time that we saw him transform from the loud guy at the party into an actual walking talking character. His full immersion into the world of a 1970′s arrogant TV news anchor went beyond the screen, unleashing the legendary Ron Burgundy unto the world.
In a way, Anchorman is akin to classic comedies like Caddyshack or Animal House in that it showcased many of the best comedic talents of a generation who were well into their prime. It was not a breakout film for Will Ferrell, Steve Carell or even Paul Rudd, but more of a reaffirmation of their talent.
But while it was not a launching pad for the cast, it was the directorial debut of Adam McKay, Will Ferrell’s good friend and writing partner. They are now infamous for not only their movies, but their website FunnyOrDie.com as well. It was also the first big comedy in the modern era of producer Judd Apatow, who also makes a quick cameo during the “Sex Panther Cologne” scene. Apatow has since gone on to take over the world of comedy, with The 40 Year Old Virgin, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Knocked Up and Superbad all grossing over $100 million at the box office. Since Anchorman, it has been Judd’s show — and needless to say, we are all tuning in.
So needless to say, based on the history behind Anchorman and my deep affection for the film and its cast of characters, I was excited to see it on the HD-DVD release schedule. I could only imagine what sort of goofy special features could pop up on the HD version of the film, especially considering the immaculate quality of the recent Superbad DVD release. I was disappointed though, when I came to find that the special features on the Anchorman HD-DVD mirrored the features on the original “Unrated, Uncut and Uncalled For!” standard DVD release. No new features; I was crushed.
But then, as I began to work my way through the special features on the disc, I found solace in my rediscovery of the world according to Ron Burgundy. It was as if I had forgotten the massive publicity push behind the release of this film and the antics of Will Ferrell, both on screen and off. It reminded me that Ferrell was walking the real world streets as Ron Burgundy long before Sacha Baron Cohen did the same with Borat. It was a brilliant marketing campaign, and it is all captured in a series of hysterical DVD features.
The HD-DVD release also gave me a good excuse to go back and watch Anchorman a few times, including a viewing with the commentary track — one that included Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The film also looked ok in High Definition, although if Christina Applegate ever sees this thing in HD, she may be looking for a new makeup artist.
All in all, I would recommend picking up Anchorman on HD-DVD if you loved the film — if for nothing else but the fact that you will be able to rediscover a comedy classic. If you are solely an HD-DVD sight and sound enthusiast though, this release has very little to offer. In fact, I take that back — if you already own this movie on DVD there really isn’t a reason to buy it again. Nothing has changed, there are no new special features and the HD presentation is nothing to write home about. You absolutely should have Anchorman in your collection, but if you already do don’t spend more money on the HD-DVD — just take out your standard DVD and watch it again.
||Release Date: November 27, 2007
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 97 minutes
Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate
Director: Adam McKay
Studio: Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Resolution: 1080p High Definition
Audio: English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus