7 items from 2004
Proving that even infantile humor can be funny, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" does make you laugh even if you hate yourself for doing so. A creation of former "Saturday Night Live" colleagues, the comedy plays like an extended skit with bits of improvisation and several slightly extended sequences.
Will Ferrell co-wrote the script with former "SNL" head writer Adam McKay. Ferrell plays the title role, while McKay makes his directing debut. If Ferrell's recent screen successes -- "Elf" and "Old School" -- mean anything, this broadly played (to put it mildly) antic comedy should become a hit with the young crowd.
The film does tackle an interesting subject -- the invasion of the male-dominated TV newsroom by women journalists in the 1970s. Formerly a place where anchormen, male reporters and a mostly male crew smoked, sipped Scotch and generally exuded testosterone, this clubby atmosphere was shattered by female reporters and eventually -- to the men's shock and chagrin -- anchorwomen.
Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, the top-rated anchorman in the San Diego market during the '70s, whose wardrobe fits his name and whose journalistic talents are nonexistent. What he is is a news reader, a voice disconnected from the brain. (He is notorious for reading anything that appears on a teleprompter, which will lead to his ruination.)
His "sidekicks" are Champ Kind (David Koechner), outfitted with a cowboy hat and a good-ol'-boy sensibility; Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), a field reporter with a flair for the fatuous; and weather guy Brick Talmand (Steve Carell), who is as thick as a ... well, a brick.
In the name of "diversity," news producer Ed Harken (the always hilarious Fred Willard) recruits newswoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) for the news team. Her very presence provokes conflicted instincts among the men. The entire news team tries to bed her, with disastrous results for all except Ron. But when a traffic mishap (involving a uproarious cameo by Jack Black) prevents Ron from making the evening newscast one fateful day, Veronica replaces him and, despite the best efforts of the rest of the male team to sabotage her, is an instant success. So the fur flies as the tomcats howl and scratch in bitter frustration.
The key to the comedy is that Ferrrell and McKay see TV newsrooms of the '70s as kindergartens. The high jinks and attempts to undermine colleagues are akin to children fighting over the sandbox. This bright comic idea extends to a "rumble" among all the male San Diego news teams, which features achingly funny cameos by, among others, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller and, as a PBS newsman, Tim Robbins.
Ferrell and Applegate make appealing foes whose sexual attraction only fuels their acrimonious rivalry. Ferrell's suavity -- for the '70s, mind you -- barely covers up his oafishness, while Applegate's pretty-in-pastel glamour barely disguises her predatory instincts. All the other actors have amusing moments in the broadest, most cartoonish sense.
The behind-the-camera team has goofy fun with the era's truly awful hair and fashion styles, equally bad music and monochromatic, bare-bones TV news desks. Of course, the main fun comes at the expense of the era's male chauvinism that now plays like such quaint nonsense.
An Apatow production
Director: Adam McKay
Producer: Judd Apatow
Executive producers: Shauna Robertson, David O. Russell
Director of photography: Thomas Ackerman
Production designer: Clayton R. Hartley
Music: Alex Wurman
Co-producer: David Householter
Costume designer: Debra McGuire
Editor: Brent White
Ron Burgundy: Will Ferrell
Veronica Corningstone: Christina Applegate
Brian Fantana: Paul Rudd
Brick Tamland: Steve Carell
Champ Kind: David Koechner
Ed Harken: Fred Willard
Garth Holliday: Chris Parnell
Helen: Kathryn Hahn
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 94 minutes »
Burt Reynolds is lighting up the barbecue for New Line Cinema's Grilled. Juliette Lewis is in negotiations to join the comedy. Jason Ensler is directing the Ray Romano-Kevin James feature, which follows a day in the life of two meat salesmen who will stop at nothing to make a sale. Reynolds plays Cookie Goldbluth, a prospect for the two salesman. Lewis would play a character who is ditzy and suicidal. Shooting is scheduled to start July 7 in Los Angeles. Producing the project are Jon Klane, Brad Jenkel, William Tepper, Jeff Sussman and Rory Rosegarten. Tepper wrote the original draft, which was rewritten by Matt Nix. New Line's Toby Emmerich, Cale Boyter and Magnus Kim are overseeing. Reynolds next shoots the Paramount remake The Longest Yard. He starred in the 1974 original. Reynolds is repped by ICM. Lewis' recent credits include Starsky & Hutch Old School and Cold Creek Manor. She is repped by WMA. »
Writing duo Jonathan Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who wrote the upcoming Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, have set up their first producing project, Open Bar, at New Line Cinema. The project, on which Hurwitz and Schlossberg will be the sole producers, was brought into the studio by the executives Matthew Moore, Mark Kaufman and Luke Ryan, who have been looking to work with the writers as producers, sources said. Open Bar is a described as a comedy in the vein of Old School about two friends who fulfill a lifelong dream of owning the bar that they used to sneak into in high school. First-time writer Josh Heald, the duo's protege, penned the screenplay. »
Former Guns N' Roses stars Slash and Duff McKagan are suing frontman Axl Rose for failing to consult them before snubbing lucrative offers from movie bosses wanting to use the group's music in their films. In the Los Angeles suit, guitarist Slash - real name Saul Hudson - and bassist McKagan are accusing Rose of rejecting requests to use old Guns N' Roses songs in major Hollywood films even though he lacks controlling interest in the material. The rock pair are reportedly furious they were left unaware of offers from the makers of We Were Soldiers, Death To Smoochy, Old School and Just Married, and are seeking $1 million from eccentric Rose in return. The suit also claims Rose killed negotiations with the producers of Black Hawk Down, who wanted to use Guns N' Roses anthem Welcome To The Jungle in their movie. In a rare show of unity, Slash and McKagan joined forces with Rose in March to file a lawsuit against their former label to prevent it from releasing a Guns N' Roses greatest-hits album. They lost the case. »
Hollywood funnyman Will Ferrell is in talks to take on the role of a Nazi playwright behind the flop musical in the Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. The Elf star is considering the role of Franz Liebkind - the writer of Springtime For Hitler in the classic comedy - being updated for the silver screen with its Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Oscar-winning The Hours superstar Nicole Kidman is already on board as sensual secretary Ulla. Ferrell has starred in a string of American comedies - including Zoolander and Old School. »
Friday, Feb. 20
Just as National Lampoon's Vacation begat "National Lampoon's European Vacation," so, too, has 2000's hit Road Trip paved the way for Eurotrip. And while it might have been tempting to this dismiss teen comedy as Eurotrash, it really isn't that bad, sophomorically speaking.
Although a number of the gags fall flatter than a crepe, the accent is on the charmingly juvenile as opposed to the purely puerile, with a fresh-faced cast of amiable young performers on hand to make the trek relatively painless.
Obviously DreamWorks, which is giving the picture the slot occupied this time last year by Old School (also from the Road Trip producing team), is looking to capture some of that boxoffice magic, and while Eurotrip isn't nearly as comically inspired, it should still play well with young male-skewing audiences.
Back when Road Trip hit the streets, the gross-out comedy was in full American Pie-fertilized bloom, but with the subgenre having thankfully bottomed out, the new breed likes to mix a little more naivete in with the naughty bits.
Hence the central character of Scotty, played by newcomer Scott Mechlowicz with the same sort of Jason Biggs nice-guy goofiness, a high school grad who finds himself en route to Europe to hook up with his German Internet pen pal Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) shortly after he was very publicly dumped by his girlfriend Fiona (Kristin Kreuk).
But before he gets to Berlin, Scotty and his sex-obsessed Buddy Cooper (Jacob Pitts) make pit stops in London and Paris -- where they hook up with friends Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and her Frommer's Guide-wielding twin brother Jamie (Travis Wester) -- before moving on to Amsterdam, Bratislava, Rome and Vatican City.
Along the way they must deal with British soccer hooligans, annoying French human robots, a merciless Dutch dominatrix (Lucy Lawless) and a creepy, lascivious Italian guy on the train (Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen).
Not all of it works, but the bright cast makes it mainly agreeable, as do the supporting players, including Matt Damon in a cameo as a tattooed rocker who performs (courtesy of the band Lustra) the very funny and very catchy Scotty Doesn't Know, which takes stock of Scotty's ex-girlfriend's various infidelities.
Making his directorial debut is Jeff Schaffer, who, along with fellow scripters Alec Berg and David Mandel, were former editors of the Harvard Lampoon before graduating to Seinfeld and more recently collaborated on Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.
Their gently risque style seems better suited to the teen sex comedy than to Dr. Seuss, but the most impressive work here is done by production designer Allan Starski (Schindler's List) and visual effects supervisor Kevin Blank, who manage to create reasonable facsimiles of all the above-mentioned destinations without ever setting foot off of the production's Prague home base.
DreamWorks Pictures presentsa Montecito Picture Co. productionA Berg/Mandel/Schaffer film
Director: Jeff Schaffer
Screenwriters: Alec Berg & David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Executive producers: Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollick, Joe Medjuck
Director of photography: David Eggby
Production designer: Allan Starski
Editor: Roger Bondelli
Costume designer: Julia Caston
Music: James L. Venable
Scotty Thomas: Scott Mechlowicz
Jenny: Michelle Trachtenberg
Cooper Harris: Jacob Pitts
Jamie: Travis Wester
Mieke: Jessica Boehrs
Madame Vandersexxx: Lucy Lawless
Mad Maynard: Vinnie Jones
Creepy Italian Guy: Fred Armisen
Donny: Matt Damon
Fiona: Kristin Kreuk
Running time -- 92 minutes
MPAA rating: R »
And so it came to pass that The Passion of the Christ opened to a five-day gross of $125.2 million, and some people said that the movie was good and some said that it wasn't good, but Hollywood marveled at its miraculous boxoffice take. And so even those who doubted have been silenced, and, lo, The Passion will continue to reign through its second weekend. In strict boxoffice lingo, that means The Passion -- which pulled in another $10.1 million Monday, $9.3 million Tuesday and $8.4 million Wednesday -- should enter the weekend with about $160 million to its credit. Conservative estimates are that it will pick up at least another $40 million. And a $50 million-plus figure is not out of the question. So, by Sunday, its 12th day of release, Mel Gibson's R-rated homily should pass the $200 million mark. At this point, it's slightly behind the numbers earned, at a corresponding point, by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That leaves this weekend's two new wide releases fighting it out for the No. 2 spot. Warner Bros. Pictures' Starsky & Hutch, director Todd Phillips' (Old School) comic resurrection of the 1970s TV show about a couple of cool cops, is looking like the stronger contender at the moment. »
7 items from 2004
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