Thursday, 23 January 2014

Let Me Off At The Top! by Ron Burgundy

I received this book at Christmas from my best friend/confidant and fellow Barricades Rise member Jonathan Coates (he's a great photographer, here's some lovely pictures he took of my son and I). At University we were both huge Will Ferrell fans, starting from a little known classic called Night At The Roxbury. We devoured all 'Frat-pack' films, usually containing at least one of the following: Vince Vaughan, Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller and later Seth Rogen. The one film that has stood the test of time and become a cult classic is Anchorman. It's the story of Ron Burgundy, the anchorman of said title and his crew, as they face challenges in the late 1970's from fellow news crews, bears and most importantly, Feminism. With the belated release of 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues', this 'autobiography' by Ron Burgundy hit the shelves.
'Every word in this book is true. You can fact-check most of it but much of it lives within my brain. Fortunately for you my memory is infallible. With the exception of people, places, situations and dialogue, I'm like a walking encyclopaedia of facts.'

I was a little dubious of the book as another fake autobiography I've read, I, Partridge by Alan Partridge AKA Steve Coogan, was patchy. There was always something telling me that, although it's funny, it's all fake. The difference between Partridge and Burgundy though is that the latter can go off on a ridiculous mythical tangent and still remain 'in character' due to the character's roots and the film he was born from. The film, although set in reality, has several off kilter moments (Jazz Flute!).
First lets start with the positives. The book alternates between biography and tips or musings. The biography part, especially his early beginnings, had me laughing out loud. SPOILER AHEAD! Verging on, then completely falling into the ridiculous, Ron's time at school was explained with more than a hint of Star Wars. The school in question was named Our Lady Queen of Chewbacca and his classmates ranged from Vinny Cithreepio, Brad Darklighter, Luke Walker and Lando Calrissian. Reading in Ron's voice it all became a lot funnier. He looks back at these times with fondness. The preposterous nature of the book does not die down. If anything it accelerates. A story about Bobby Kennedy, Peter Lawford and himself going out hunting in the desert for the (may or may not be mythical) Jackalopes really had me frowning at the start but by the end the conviction he writes with, often saying 'and this bit was definitely true' had me in pieces. The book doesn't touch any part of the film which I'm glad about, although it often mentions characters from it, especially his news crew and wife.
There are equal misses as hits especially when talking about his tips. One extremely funny chapter is named 'My Twelve Rules for Living Through a Prison Riot', yet the majority of his tip chapters fall flat. 'My Hair' tells about his majestic mane but becomes limp. As the book draws to a close it starts to lose focus and pace. The chapter on the nineties starts pretty funny, with stories of political cover ups and how Ron was involved, but quickly burns out and the joke just doesn't die. SPOLIER AHEAD! In one chapter he goes on about how he hates Mexico and how no-one should ever write about it, then he talks himself into writing it himself and towards the end actually uses a chapter as the intro to this new book. The set up was really well played but the final output is lame. I also had problems finding certain things funny due to it's American nature. Most celebrities he names I had never heard of yet after Googling several of them they are household names in the US.

The book is only around 220 pages and I ran through it quickly, finding it laugh out loud as well as tiresome, pretty much what I thought of I, Partridge. I would definitely recommend it for fellow Burgundy fans but otherwise I'd give it a miss.
One final grievance is the cover. It's made to look like a 1970s biography with it's black background and ugly font and although it fits in with the time of the film, aesthetically it's really off putting.

A middle of the road 5 on the comfometer.

Stay Classy.

Michael
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