Kind of a Big Deal: How Anchorman Stayed Classy and Became the Most Iconic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century

Dutton. Aug. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780593186848. $29. FILM
Many influential films have received exhaustive behind-the-scenes studies. Despite or perhaps due to its raunchy humor, Anchorman is absolutely deserving of this treatment. Austerlitz (writing and comedy history, New York Univ.; Generation “Friends”) has taught Anchorman and its many themes in his classes. Featuring more than 60 original interviews, the book charts how significantly director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell’s script changed from its original version. Austerlitz also extols the crucial contributions made by the costume and set designers, provides a useful history of the 1970s news broadcasts that the film satirized, and explores the misogynistic behavior of Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy character and his all-men news team whose lewd comments, readers may recall, consistently backfired, humiliating the men rather than their women targets. The book also mentions real-life TV journalists—Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Mark Halperin, for example—who were fired when allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct. Finally, Austerlitz explains the film’s legacy, including the “Frat Pack” films that followed and Ferrell’s and McKay’s other projects (like Ferrell’s George W. Bush–inspired play You’re Welcome America.
VERDICT An engaging read for fans of Ferrell and McKay’s iconic film.
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