Movie Column 

Today’s Movie news: comedy reigns

One of the things that creeped me out the most in Fahrenheit 9/11 were those Army recruiting officers. (If you haven’t seen it yet just go.) Anyhow, there’s a couple of Army recruiting officers who basically just drive around poor neighbourhoods looking for able-bodied po’ folk they can convince/trick/harass into signing up to kill and maybe die for America. They’re like hell’s version of Amway salesmen.

For instance, to the tall black kid they found at the mall in the poorest part of town they rant, "What do you like doing? Playing basketball huh? You any good? You got a future in that? You know you can play ball in the Army too. Sure, you heard of David Robinson? Yeah, well he played for the Army before going on to play for San Antonio. Sure, man. You can make it."

Then to the next young black man: "What about you? Oh you want a career in music. You can get that in the Army. You heard of so-and-so…" and on and on and on. Shameless bastards.

Later, Michael Moore starts asking Senators if they’d like to volunteer their children to sign up and fight in Iraq. You can guess the results of that. The point is, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a damn good flick that grossed over $61 million in two weeks of release, which means a crapload of people are seeing it and that is definitely a good thing. You should see it too. (The amazing Spiderman 2 grossed over $180.1 million in only one week, in case you’re wondering.)

But enough grim views of reality and action-packed love stories, let’s get a bit of comic relief going here. Enter Will Ferrel and his new film Anchorman . Ferrel, who co-wrote the comedy with Adam McKay (in his directorial debut) stars as Ron Burgundy, a self-obsessed, suave, but painfully stupid newscast anchor in the 1970s. Apparently, the newsrooms of the ’70s consisted almost entirely of juvenile chauvinism in a male-dominated sausage-fest, much like a Whistler house party, and Burgundy’s the top dog newsman in all of San Diego.

Enter Veronica Corningstone, a woman newscaster played by Christina Applegate, who, gasp, has aspirations of being a news anchor herself. All the old boys in the newsroom are threatened by this so they do the only thing they can think of – try to bed her. Veronica Corningstone is a fighter though, and she rises in rank until eventually she and Ron Burgundy are co-anchors. Ron has difficulties dealing with a woman doing a man’s job and it ruins the budding romance between the two. Apparently women had a hell of time getting into broadcast positions in the ’70s, so despite the sophomoronic humour and the funny/gruesome Gangs of New York meets Westside Story newsman street brawl, there is a level of social satire lurking beneath the juvenile comedy.

But juvenile comedy is Will Ferrel’s bread and butter and this time around, although it’s not his best work, he finds a nice middle ground between the safe, family-values humour of Elf and the topless lube wrestling shenanigans of now-classic Old School .

Anchorman is light and silly, and not expertly directed at all. I’m stoked to see a strong performance from Christina Applegate again – remember way back when she played that hotty on TV’s Married… with Children ? I sure do. Anchorman is not superb but fans of Ferrel’s will eat it up. His whacky, improv style almost carries the picture and although it isn’t his best film, it’s still worth a few laughs.

Speaking of laughs, King Arthur just opened on Wednesday at the Village 8 and it’s supposed to be a "more historically accurate telling of the Arthurian legend." No magic, mystery or majesty – i.e. all the things that make the story good. Directed by Antoine Fuqua ( Training Day, Tears of the Sun) and produced by cookie-cutter action movie specialist Jerry Bruckheimer, King Arthur has only one thing going for it – action-packed battle sequences. Clean PG-rated action without nearly enough blood and horror to be as realistic as I’d hoped, but action nonetheless.

Old cinematic standards such as character development, empathy or emotion are out the window and the focus is on swordplay, bow-and-arrowing, and Guinevere’s costumes. The fight sequences are decent, but no better than Troy, or Gladiator, and not even close to Braveheart or Lord of the Rings . It’s all been done before (eight King Arthur movies since 1953) and Bruckheimer and Fuqua don’t bring anything new to the table. King Arthur is bland, flat and really, Anchorman has a better fight sequence. Skip it and rent 1981’s Excalibur instead, or Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail, both of which are far better movies.

At Rainbow Theatre July 9-15: Day After Tomorrow.

At Village 8 July 9-15: Anchorman, Notebook, Harry Potter, Dodgeball, Terminal, Shrek 2, King Arthur, White Chicks, Spiderman 2, Fahrenheit 9/11.

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