Doesn’t it seem as though the SNL crossover into movies is sort of a cursed venture? So many competent comedians have failed trying to bring their brand of funny to the big screen, whether in the form of a popular Saturday Night character or something original. Yet somehow, Will Ferrell has prevailed. Not that it’s been a completely successful run. Remember Kicking and Screaming? But if you break down his career he does seem to be, for the most part, successful. It could be that he’s just that much funnier, or more likeable, or business savvy than a Molly Shannon or Tim Meadows. Or maybe he’s just lucky. Whatever the reason, Will Ferrell has claimed a spot among the elite comedic actors of all time, and though he’s got a few crapfests under his belt, it’s movies like Anchorman that keep his momentum building.
Anchorman is fun. Not the cleverest movie ever made, but Ferrell and Co. do so much to keep you enjoying yourself that you certainly won’t begrudge them a boner joke or two. Plot in this movie isn’t a priority, as much or as little as it’s developed. It’s all secondary to the barrage of jokes Will Ferrell and Adam McKay keep chucking. And what makes Anchorman exceptional, is that it’s ok. It’s ok that plot isn’t a priority because when the credits roll, plot isn’t what you’re talking about. These jokes never depend on plot, and exist almost entirely outside of it, coming at you from out of nowhere. It’s sketch comedy, and it’s plainly a good time. As much as this is a winning strategy for a good ol’ Will Ferrell comedy, Anchorman has the added bonus of being wholly rewatchable. This, I think, is one of the chief successes a comedy can achieve. For the most part you’re not gonna be deeply touched, but if you can watch, and rewatch, and watch again, then the writers and comedians have done their job to completion.
It’s harder to be critical of shallow movies, especially if you don’t care that they’re shallow. Anchorman certainly falls into that category. It’s legitimately good and someday we’ll make our kids watch it and reminisce. If a movie can’t claim to be terribly effecting or all that significant, then it can at least strive to be enjoyable, something you can share with people. Because these are the films that fill the inbetween space of the flicks that change lives. They’re just not all Best Picture nominees, and nor should they be, nor would we want them to be. Being able to make your audience happy is a major feat, and the next time you see some critic ripping into a Will Ferrell comedy for being simple-minded, remind yourself that intelligence wasn’t the goal. You’ll feel much more inclined to call that critic’s legitimacy into question, and not the film he’s deriding.