This one is strictly for Will Ferrell fans; since I can safely declare myself a monster fan of sad extremes, it made me very happy. Ferrell stars as a San Diego newsman in the '70s who falls in love with his fiercest competition, a woman vying for an anchor job (Christina Applegate, doing an excellent job not laughing at Ferrell all the time). Haters of the film denounced it for not having a real plot, but I say, screw plot when things are this funny! Ferrell is full-on hilarious every moment he spends on screen, and Steve Carell (as dim-bulb weatherman Brick) is every bit as funny, if not funnier.
Director Adam McKay recently announced that he had shot so much footage during the making of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy that he could make another movie with the leftovers. He also announced that DVD consumers would be able to purchase another full-length feature assembled from his unused footage, with an entirely different plot. Upon first hearing this, I figured he was just exaggerating, teasing and heartlessly lying. Well, he wasn't lying, and Wake Up, Ron Burgundy! is proof. The assembled, unused footage from Anchorman (strung together with the use of a helpful narrator) is a fairly cohesive, often very funny film unto itself. An entire deleted Anchorman subplot involving a radical terrorist group called "the Clock" (featuring Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live) makes up the nucleus of the new movie. While it's obvious why the footage was deleted (it's a little clunky), it's still entertaining. Wake Up, Ron Burgundy! winds up being a 92-minute feature that is better than most of the comedies released last year. A scene in which Brick eats a coffee filter full of cigarette butts out of a trash can is classic.
The unrated version of Anchorman isn't all that much different from the theatrical release. Ron is forced to eat dog shit, and says "fuck" about five times instead of one.
Special Features: If you purchase the gift-set containing both Anchorman and Burgundy, the films come as separate discs, each with their own special features. Each disc includes even more excised footage, all of it funny. Bloopers, documentaries and commentaries round out the packages. The unrated version has an unrated commentary "intro" during which Ferrell and McKay curse a lot (some of it bleeped), but it segues into a normal commentary with cast members and special guests such as Andy Richter.
Two unfortunate souls (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis) go on vacation, take a scuba-diving trip and are left behind by their charter vessel. They argue for a little while, convinced that somebody will become aware of their plight and pluck them out of the ocean. Then the sharks show up. Ryan and Travis spent many hours swimming with real sharks, and that fear on their faces is genuine. The movie pulls no punches and stays on a very dark course.
Special Features: Ryan and Travis deliver one of the two commentaries, and hearing Ryan confess her total, hysterical fear while in the water with 40 sharks is funny, not to mention remarkable. (These two are nuts.) Deleted scenes and extra footage are disposable and a waste of time, but the "making of" feature is okay. If you buy your DVD at Best Buy, you get a bonus disc with a couple of documentaries. One feature delivers a bunch of diving safety tips, which are going to come in handy on that scuba diving expedition I will never take, because this film scared the shit out of me.
There was a lot of talk about how this film was Tom Cruise's first hack at playing a villain. Perhaps those talkers never saw Taps or Magnolia. It is true that Vincent, the hitman with salt-and-pepper hair, is a cold-hearted bastard, and Cruise does cold-hearted bastard well. As the cab driver that Vincent forces into a tour of death, Jamie Foxx delivered his career best performance at the time, an accomplishment that was topped with the release of Ray. Director Michael Mann always makes good-looking movies. This one stands alongside the beauty of his Heat and The Last of the Mohicans, all monumentally good-looking, superbly acted movies.
Special Features: A decent two-disc set that features City of Night, a 40-minute documentary on making the movie with full participation from Cruise and Foxx. There's also Cruise/Foxx rehearsal footage compared to the actual filmed scenes, and a deleted scene that doesn't amount to much. The best feature is Special Delivery, in which Mann gives his star a lesson in anonymity by making him deliver packages on the streets in an attempt to not be recognized as Tom Cruise. Cruise pulls off the delivery gig with flying colors. No commentaries.