Hard as it may be to believe, I've heard rumors that some people didn't like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the straight-up funniest movie released in 2004. If you're one of those people, please stop reading this now.

Okay, now that all the fools have left the room, we can get down to business.

I wasn't much of a Will Ferrell believer until last year, mainly because I automatically don't trust anything that comes out of Saturday Night Live anymore. The show is horrible. It brings out the worst in comic performers, teaching them to pander when they could startle, and to repeat when they could improvise. Every few years, however, by simple virtue of the law of averages, the show spits up a genuine original who thrives on the inherent challenges of the show's format, and sticks out as a gleaming Phil Hartman in a murky sea of Joe Piscopos, Jimmy Fallons, and Tina Feys. I suppose I'm the last to know, but Ferrell is obviously a world-class film comedian whose every gesture, vocal inflection, and chemical impulse is painfully hilarious. Anchorman proves Ferrell's genius far more decisively than Old School or Elf--both of which feature audacious Ferrell performances in otherwise half-assed contexts. Like most American comedies of the last 25 years, Ferrell's latest film is built on a foundation of sentimental crap. But the sheer absurdity of his characterization in the lead role, and the obvious inspiration it provided for his (male) co-stars, especially The Daily Show's Steve Carell, lifts Anchorman into the pantheon.

The DVD release of this underappreciated gem is packed with all the stuff you'd want: Ferrell and his cohorts in outtake, rehearsal, and screen test mode, obviously improvising their ludicrous dialogue, and generally experimenting with what they know is a ridiculous cinematic premise. (Best of all is Ferrell's in-character interview with a real-life news anchor in front of a live audience.) But where most DVDs offer fans a handful of deleted scenes, Anchorman presents something unprecedented: a whole deleted movie.

The film's premise was sufficiently ridiculous that the filmmakers apparently had some difficulty wrangling it into a reasonable plot--a fact even fans of the film would be hard-pressed to dispute. The challenge extended so far that the film was drastically rewritten and reshot during production. Enough extra footage existed to constitute an entire "lost" version of the film, with an additional cast--including Kevin Corrigan and Maya Rudolph--and (lame) kidnapping subplot, all of which were excised in favor of the concise (equally lame) zoo animal storyline in the released version. Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie offers a reedited version of Anchorman that incorporates the deleted footage, including alternate takes of the scenes that appear in both versions. It doesn't exactly count as another movie--the cosmetic voice-over isn't quite enough to spackle over the gaping holes in the story. But it does provide an opportunity to watch Ferrell, Carell, and company do their absurd hypermasculine square dance for an additional hour, which is a bonus any fan of Anchorman should be able to get behind.

Sponsored
Day In • Day Out returns this summer, August 12th thru 14th!
Featuring The National, Mitski, Mac DeMarco and more! Full lineup and tickets at dayindayoutfest.com