When the internet went crazy about news of the Anchorman sequel, I was met with a chilling revelation. I had never seen it. And though it was on some vague list of films I vaguely intended on one day watching, like the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Blue Velvet or Jurassic Park 3, my life didn’t feel any poorer for it. A blind spot’s just a blind spot, right?
But the way everyone – including smart people, good friends – were wailing excitedly in union, peppering each sentence with mysterious mentions of “jazz flutes” and “staying classy” I began to feel empty. Had I missed out on some a crucial rite-of-passage.
So the other Saturday night, bored after shouting at The Voice UK, I decided to stay in and watch BBC Three’s smartly-timed re-run. I opened a fresh bag of Bassetts special edition Olympic Jelly Mascots in keen anticipation of a comedy classic like The Man With Two Brains or Caddyshack or Bridesmaids.
And I didn’t laugh once.
The occasional smirk perhaps when Jack Black kicks the dog off the cliff. The bit where he says “I’m Ron Burgundy?” Steve Carrell is never not watchable. But it felt like an off-day for all the talented people involved. Most of whom, perhaps tellingly, have since eclipsed Ferrell. Christina Applegate is actually better in Samantha Who, just is saying something.
For a start, in setting up this world of ’70s machismo, ripe for plundering it, it doesn’t really. It lets them dork out, poking fun at their lack of self-awareness, but when Veronica Corningstone arrives, apparently to skewer this world, the film wimps out. She falls in love with Ron almost as soon as arriving, only snapping after a period of misjudged period of sustained workplace bullying. And then, allowed a period of career success, she turns damsel-in-distress, Ron races back, and after a tedious bit of runaround in a bear pit, falls back in love with him again.
But that’s not the real problem. Try applying a feminist critique to a Will Ferrell and you deserve all you get (even a Will Ferrell movie that proffers to offer a feminist critique itself). No, the real problem is that Anchorman just isn’t funny. There, I said it.
Except what actually happened was I sunk into a pit of existential self-doubt and poured another glass of wine, contemplating the world being a club I could never be part of. Then I took to Twitter (rarely a good idea after two and a half drinks) and declared “Sorry but Anchorman isn’t funny.” And a curious thing happened:
finally someone else there is nothing funny about Anchorman: bit.ly/H0wh3D
— (@eddychemical) March 31, 2012
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And so it went. I had raised an army of the dispossessed, united by our shared plight of just not ‘getting’ Anchorman. “Fucking hated it. Overrated. Ron Burgundy: The Story Of Little Laughter,” seethed the person I was text flirting with that evening. NME’s Editor Krissi said that she and her husband tried to watch the same screening and didn’t even make it to the end.
My friend Tim (who used to wear the fact that he had never seen Star Wars as a badge) is no stranger to troll-bating. Only last week he attracted the rage of the Guardian commenters for a light-hearted column where he says he doesn’t understand the attraction of having children. But even he said he would be petrified at admitting publicly that he felt much the same about Anchorman, and being outed as blind to a joke that world agrees on so collectively – ergo lacking a sense of humour. What kind of social leprosy would this be?
So why, when seemingly everyone I have spoken to since thinks exactly the same, is Anchorman hailed as some seminal masterwork of cinematic comedy? What are me and my growing army of likeminds missing? We would genuinely like to know. And if you really can’t wait for the sequel, check out a satirical news anchor really worth shouting about, Brooke Alvarez from the Onion News Network. That bitch got claws.