Not really a movie as much as an extra long SNL skit, "Anchorman" has a fun idea and quite a few laughs throughout, even if it's all pretty base comedy desperately trying all it can to garner a giggle. As a result the laughs come and go, some gags painfully fall flat on their face but you have to admire the fact the cast keep plowing onwards and sooner rather than later they hit. It's certainly not in the league of "Old School" but will appeal to a generally younger demographic than that film has.
Performances are strong all around despite the at times weak material. Ferrell always seems to give it his all and isn't afraid to try anything for a laugh. Applegate shares good chemistry with the funnyman whilst proving a strong presence of considerate and ambitious manner. Rudd, Willard and Carell turn in solid supporting roles whilst cameos galore (Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins) breakout during the film's silliest but one of its most laugh out loud moments involving an inter-network rumble.
The laughs are garnered mainly from three sources - the 70's look, the battle of the sexes, and the gang warfare-esque network newscaster rivalries. Each have moments which click and which don't - some of the sexism stuff especially though played for laughs just doesn't feel funny. Then again a 'date' involving Ron and Veronica in a lounge leads to a hilarious flute performance by Ferrell that includes stomping on cocktail glasses and flame throwing.
The 70's look is done with flair by the costume and production designers who do it all in with an over the top tribute to pastels, big hair, body hair and everything big. Director Adam McKay handles the material well, never really giving the film much flair but makes it a servicable enough piece that's very easy to digest. Fans of the Todd Phillips school of comedy are going to be divided on this one - there's real potential here and a great premise but had it been a little cleverer it could've been so much more.