HD DVD
Worth a Look
3.5 stars
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$29.99
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

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The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Worth a Look

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Street Date:
November 27th, 2007
Reviewed by:
High-Def Digest staff
Review Date: 1
December 3rd, 2007
Movie Release Year:
2004
Studio:
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
Length:
98 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Before I jump into my review of 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,' I should warn you that Will Ferrell makes me laugh even when he isn't trying. He could be standing in the background of a scene looking blankly at another actor, or simply nodding his head in agreement, yet still I can feel the chuckles brimming behind my teeth, just waiting for this bizarre court jester to do anything that gives me permission to finally burst.

'Anchorman' turns Ferrell loose in the '70s as an arrogant, San Diego newscaster (named Ron Burgundy, of course) who captains a team of rowdy newsman (played with hilarious abandon by Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Steve Carell). When their boss (Fred Willard) hires an ambitious female reporter named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), the sanctity of their boys' club is threatened. At first, Ron falls head over heels for this new potential plaything, but when the strong-willed Veronica is promoted to co-anchor, Ron fights to prove he's the only anchor who deserves to sit behind the desk.

Ferrell laces Burgundy with comic gold -- his smarmy smirk and over-enunciated delivery combine to create a character who seems to genuinely believe he's a god among men. Ferrell dives headfirst into the role and plays everything with unwavering confidence. He bawls at the heavens when he cries, he gurgles his screams when he's enraged, and his eyes come to life every time he tries to prove his worth. The film's funniest moments come from the simple contrast between his self-assuredness and the bumbling reality of his actions. In fact, if it weren't for Ferrell's commitment and gusto, 'Anchorman' would probably crash and burn within its first ten minutes.

Steve Carell also makes the best of his brief scenes, nearly stealing the show from Ferrell. He crafts his Brick Tamland into a wide-eyed man-child who's desperate to win the respect of his friends. After re-watching this performance, it's no wonder that the "Daily Show" alum has become such a celebrated leading man on both television and the big screen. Meanwhile, the always-reliable Rudd and Koechner round out the talented ensemble with quick timing and comedic intensity. When the news team faces a cameo-laden group of evil anchors, the sheer joy of the performances make me crack up every time. 'Anchorman' is definitely one of those films where it seems clear that the entire cast had a blast on set.

If I have any gripe with 'Anchorman,' it's that the film often feels like a compendium of "Saturday Night Live" sketches. Director Adam McKay ('Talladega Nights') was an SNL writer for 6 years, and quite frankly it shows as he gets bogged down with subplots and running jokes that almost bring the middle of the film to a screeching halt. Luckily, McKay knows how to end strong -- he recovers nicely and delivers an absurdly funny finale.

If you're not a fan of Will Ferrell, I doubt you'll stumble onto anything in 'Anchorman' that will change your mind. As with most comedies, the humor in the film is completely relative to the viewer. Some will laugh maniacally at Ferrell's antics, while others will simply stare blankly at the screen. As a died-in-the-wool Ferrell fan, you can guess which camp I fall in, but I'd recommend using your own personal love or hate of his other films to help determine how likely you are to enjoy this one.

(Note that this "Unrated" cut of 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' is four minutes longer than the theatrical version. The differences are inconsequential in the plot, primarily comprised of a few scene extensions that allow the actors to squeeze in some extra R-rated language.)

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Anchorman' is presented with a colorful 1080p/AVC transfer that's solid enough, but falls short of the best catalog transfers. First the good news. The film's bright '70s costumes are painted with vivid primaries and striking hues that put the film's standard DVD to shame. An increased level of contrast makes Ron's white shirt pop beneath his burgundy jacket, while deep blacks help craft a convincing three dimensional picture. Detail is decent for the most part -- twills and tweed are sharp, facial hair is suitably rendered, and the rampant wood grain patterns strewn about the cheesy sets are clearly defined. More importantly, I'm pleased to report that this HD DVD transfer doesn't suffer from any significant artifacting or source noise like the standard DVD.

On the not-so-bright side, the picture generally looks a bit soft. Exterior shots fare better than interiors, but almost every scene in Ron's apartment feels muddy and murky. For a good example of this shifting clarity, look no further than Ron's dog -- the mutt's hair is noticeably crisper during day lit shots. I was also terribly distracted by the film's erratic grain fields. While the grain is subdued for the majority of the film, some darker shots look simply awful. At the end of the day, fans of 'Anchorman' will be happy with the upgrade this HD DVD delivers, but I doubt anyone will be throwing this disc in to show off their high-def rig.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'Anchorman' features a technically proficient Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround track (1.5 Mbps) that handles what it's given with ease. Like most comedies of its type, the film itself is a conversation-heavy affair that doesn't boast a soundfield brimming with subtleties. Still, dialogue is perfectly prioritized and balanced across the front channels -- most lines even have a welcome level of LFE support that gives each voice a rich presence in the mix. Sound effects are crisp, pans are smooth, and accuracy is surprisingly on point for a screwball comedy.

But that's about it. The rear channels are used for the occasional cannonball splash and trident clang, but they're subdued for the most part. Even the anchor-battle relies on the front speakers to supply the majority of the chaos. At least the film's classic rock soundtrack hints at the dynamic potential of the mix -- I enjoyed listening to drum beats pulse along the floor as guitars strummed cleanly across the soundfield. Overall, although this track certainly does its job, I can't help but wish the sound designers had taken the time to create a more immersive mix.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Although this HD DVD edition of 'Anchorman' ports over all the entire supplement package from the Unrated DVD, it lacks the majority of extras from the "Wake Up Ron Burgundy" bonus disc that came with the Limited Edition Giftset DVD. That disc featured an experimental feature-length cut of the film (comprised entirely of deleted scenes and alternate takes), further deletions and outtakes, audition and rehearsal footage and more. Still, this is certainly a packed set as it is:

  • Cast and Crew Commentary -- Director Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and an assortment of "special guests" show up full of coffee to participate in this ADHD mess of a commentary track. While I laughed quite a bit listening to this one, no one seems to be able to control the room. They drift from subject to subject without much focus and eventually lose interest in talking about the film entirely. Unless you're a huge fan of the film or Ferrell's improv, you may want to avoid this one.
  • The Making of 'Anchorman' (SD, 10 minutes) -- This brief featurette includes interviews with the cast and crew, but ultimately amounts to little more than promotional fluff. Everyone jokes around so much that we never learn about the actual process or work that went into the movie. There's some decent behind-the-scenes footage, but nothing of substance.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 35 minutes) -- These scenes were a real treat. While many are simply alternate takes and extensions, there's still plenty here for fans of the film.
  • Afternoon Delight Music Video (SD, 3 minutes) -- Easily my favorite feature on the disc, this is a recording of the actual cast playing the news team singing a perfectly harmonized version of "Afternoon Delight." Best of all, they actually sound great. I can't get enough of their catchy acapela version of this classic oldie.
  • A Conversation with Ron Burgundy (SD, 10 minutes) -- This is an entertaining extra which sees an in-character Ferrell being interviewed by newsman Bill Kurtis in front of a live audience.
  • Ron Burgundy's ESPN Audition (SD, 2 minutes) -- More of the same, this short features an in-character Will Ferrell recording an audition tape for ESPN. Entertaining enougfh, but quite honestly these in-character promotional clips do begin to wear a little thin.
  • Bloopers (SD, 7 minutes) -- This nice series of flubs and laugh-outs had me chuckling on more than one occasion. They may not be to everyone's liking, but this feature feels far more natural than some of the others on the disc.
  • Ron Burgundy at the MTV Movie Awards (SD, 7 minutes) -- Again, Ferrell appears in-character, this time to interview celebrities at the MTV movie awards. This one's pretty good, but participants like Rebecca Romijn-Stamos don't give Ferrell much to work with.
  • Special Report (SD, 6 minutes) -- This is a cute feature with several in-character reports from the news team. Most of these scenes appear in the background of final scenes in the film, they're presented here in their amusing entirety.
  • Commercial Break (SD, 3 minutes) -- Will Ferrell finally steps out of his burgundy suit to discuss the relevance of feminism in modern... nah, just kidding. Ferrell appears in-character yet again, giving me one last chance to question my enjoyment of the film and my defense of his comedic stylings.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Nothing.

Easter Eggs

On the special features page, be sure to highlight "Afternoon Delight" and press right on your remote. Click on the circled number four that appears and you'll uncover a deleted scene featuring life after Baxter. Thanks to Tim for sending this one through!

Final Thoughts

Depending on your opinion of Will Ferrell, 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' will either make you bust a gut or shake your head in disbelief. Either way, this HD DVD is decent upgrade of the previously released 'Unrated' DVD, but nothing more. The video and audio are both solid but unexceptional, and the extras are often funny but far from illuminating. All things considered, this one's definitely worth a look, but some may want to give this one a rent before making a final purchase decision.

Technical Specs

  • HD DVD
  • HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc
  • HD DVD
  • HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1
  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (1.5Mbps)
  • French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (768kbps)
  • Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (768kbps)
  • English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (1.5Mbps)
  • French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (768kbps)
  • Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (768kbps)

Subtitles/Captions

  • English Subtitles
  • Portuguese Subtitles
  • English SDH
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Portuguese Subtitles
  • English Subtitles
  • English SDH
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles

Supplements

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Bloopers and Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Exclusive HD Content

  • None
  • None

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List Price
$29.99
Amazon
$15.00 (50%)
3rd Party
$4.50
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

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