We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Sometimes the key to satire is to stay fairly close to the source. "Anchorman," like "This Is Spinal Tap," works best when it's only a degree or two removed from the excesses of the real thing. When the news director goes ape over stories about cute animals at the zoo, when the promos make the news "team" look like a happy family, the movie is right on target. But when rival local news teams engage in what looks like a free-for-all from a Roman arena, it doesn't work. Most of the time, though, "Anchorman" works, and a lot of the time it's very funny.
The movie centers on Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), the legendary top local anchor in San Diego in the early 1970s. Ron has bought into his legend, believes his promos, and informs a blonde at a pool party: "I have many very important leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." His weakness is that he will read anything that is typed into his prompter. Anything. The words pass from his eyes into his mouth without passing through his brain.
There are viewers in every city who will think they know who this character in based on. Certainly anyone who was around Chicago TV news in the 1970s will instantly think of one name. I will not reveal the name here, but I will tell a story. A friend of mine was an assignment editor on this nameless anchor's station. One day he gave a juicy assignment to the man's co-anchor and rival. The next day the nameless one leaned casually against my friend's door:
"Say, John, that was a great story you had for Maury yesterday. What do you have for me today?"