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the razz movie reviews: ALAN MORRISON'S Movie reviews: The Anchorman only the 'W' is silent; The laughs come thick and fast in this romp about TV news teams.

Byline: ALAN MORRISON

ANCHORMAN#####12A

WILL FERRELL is big business. After a series of movie cameo roles, the former Saturday Night Live star became a player in his own right with last year's comedy Elf.

His latest venture, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgandy,more than paid back its budget in its opening weekend in the US alone.

Will is making the headlines,andfor all the right reasons.

The 6ft 3in actor found national fame on American telly institution Saturday Night Live in the late Nineties.

That's where he met the show's head writer, Adam McKay.

Later the two of them teamed up to write a screenplay, with McKay making his debut as film director, and the result is Anchorman, one of the funniest comedies of the year.

Critics will argue that Will's movie creation - - sexist throwback Ron Burgandy - is little more than a Saturday Night Live sketch stretched out to feature length.

They'll say that the succession of jokes reveals Anchorman's roots in the conveyor-belt, hit-or-miss, television sketch show format.That maybe true to an extent, but there's no doubt that Will lines up the laughs and knocks the audience dead.

On top of that, the film has something to say about sexism in the Seventies and the struggle of women to make their mark in TV broadcasting.

You've got to remember that long before Moira Stuart, Kirsty Young and Fiona Bruce ruled the airwaves, even before Angela Rippon unveiled her legs on Morecambe And Wise, TV newsreading was a male domain. These bulletins dealt with the things that made the world go round - national disasters, governments in crisis, etc - and only the authority of Richard Baker, Robert Dougall or Kenneth Kendall were thought to be capable of conveying the seriousness of the issues.

But in the Seventies, it got a bit sexier. In Britain, we had Richard Whitmore with his younger good looks and trendy moustache. In America, at least in the San Diego of this movie, they had Ron Burgandy.

Ron exemplifies everything that was tasteless about this period.

With his facial hair, turtleneck sweater and velvet jacket, he looks like he has just walked out of an advert for a cheap aftershave.

He thinks he's got a way with the 'laydeez', but his chat-up lines would sound cheesy in a bad porn film - 'I'm storming your castle onmy steed, milady'.

Nevertheless, Ron has his band of admirers. In other words, colleagues who are even bigger losers thanhe is. Right hand man is on-the-spot reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd,best known as Phoebe's Mike in Friends).

Then there's sports commentator Champ Kind(David Koechner),whose love for Ron goes a little bit far for those unenlightened times.

Bringing up the rear is weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) who just about steals the show with his thick-as-his-name dumbo routine.

Breaking up the all-male party, however, is Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who wants to stop doing those daft 'And finally' stories and become co-anchor.

When an incident with a hot burrito and a Hell's Angel causes Ron to miss a broadcast,Veronica seizes her chance and is a huge success.

Now, even though they're an off-camera item, Ron's childish jealousy causes him to try every low trick in the book to knock her career off the rails.

Like the recent Starsky and Hutch remake,Anchorman delights in sending up Seventies excess, from bad clothes to bad attitudes about the opposite sex.

But it's not all about spoofs and gags.This cast know how to nail character comedy right on its perfectly coiffured head.

It also contains comedy cameos from Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Jack Black, Luke Wilson and others.

It says something about Will's talent that these big names are happy to play second fiddle to his rising star.

CAPTION(S):

LETHAL WEAPON: Will Ferrell as Ron Burgandy
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 10, 2004
Words:641
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