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HD DVD Review: Anchorman

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With Will Ferrell plastered all over the box, one would expect him to be a show stealer. While he has some great one-liners and gives audiences his typical “egotistical moron” shtick from Talledega Nights and Blades of Glory, it’s Steve Carell who generates the true gut-busting laughs in Anchorman. His small role saves the movie during some ruts and some completely blindsiding changes in tone.

Great characters all around make Anchorman the dumb (yet successful) comedy it is. Paul Rudd and David Koechner complement Farrell along with Carell. They make up a blatantly sexist ‘70s news team from San Diego. Christina Applegate has the pleasure of playing the only remotely intelligent person in the movie, though also has a chance to goof around when needed.

Anchorman’s biggest problem is tone. A serious yet dumb comedy one minute, an over-the-top illogical one the next, the movie is all over the place. A street fight with rival news teams is the breaking point as to whether or not you can tolerate this one any longer. Cameos are everywhere, including Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Vince Vaughn in a side plot that goes nowhere.

It doesn’t matter who shows up, though. Steve Carell is brilliant as the incompetent, moronic weatherman. He needs more screen time, as every time he opens his mouth, it's perfectly timed and so completely stupid, you’ll need to pause the movie to catch your breath. Lines such as “I love lamp” and referring to the center of the US as the Middle East are too funny not to love.

The rest of the movie, from the loose plotting to the smaller roles (including a solid performance from Fred Willard), end up coming together for this goofy comedic romp. It’s not a movie for everybody, and may even take multiple viewings to catch on. Either way, it’s worth giving it a shot.

As a catalog release, it’s stunning to see the work done on this HD transfer. This is a beautifully presented video package, with vivid detail, strong color, and deep black levels. The funky '70s plaid everywhere in this movie could not look any better (or worse) than it does here. Close-ups are astonishing in terms of how much can be made out, and the backgrounds are equally sharp. Some odd print damage in spots doesn’t damper this beautiful HD presentation.

There’s little to discuss in regards to the Dolby Digital Plus audio mix. The fight scene offers some appropriate surround work, though it’s hardly anything revolutionary. Dialogue driven throughout, Anchorman sounds fine with a serviceable mix.

The lack of Wake Up Ron Burgundy is a huge disappointment over the Unrated SD DVD. It was a feature-length sequel of sorts created completely out of deleted and extended scenes. It was funny, and it’s a true loss if you’re upgrading.

Instead, HD DVD fans are given 29 deleted scenes running over a half hour. It’s not a worthy replacement. The rest of the extras are carry-overs, and still worth watching. A loaded commentary contains the majority of the cast, though the case only lists director Adam McKay and Farrell.

A promotional making of runs for 10 minutes and can be skipped. A Conversation with Ron Burgundy is a 10 minute interview with Ferrell in full character, as he is in almost all of these extras. His ESPN audition, interviews at the MTV Movie Awards, and a Reel Comedy skit are all included, and all are in-character pieces.

Eight minutes of bloopers provide additional comedy, and Special Report is a collection of alternate takes and improv. A music video has the cast singing “Afternoon Delight.” Finally, Commercial Break is two minutes of random behind-the-scenes footage.

With the additional cost of the new format, not including the same features seems incredibly cheap on the studio's part. It’s even worse when these features are as much fun as Wake Up. An extra disc isn't that much to ask for.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.