Paramount // 2013 // 143 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 22nd, 2014
"By the bedpan of Gene Rayburn!" -- Ron Burgundy
Blusteringly oblivious 1970s new anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell, The Other Guys) is back! It's now the early 1980s and Burgundy and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate, Up All Night), are riding high on their success as co-anchors on a popular New York network newscast. Everything is going great, until Burgundy's boss (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) promotes Veronica and fires Ron. In the blink of an eye, Burgundy forces Veronica to choose between her career and their marriage, leaving their relationship and Ron's career in ruins.
After a bout of self-destructive behavior (including a disastrous gig as an announcer at Sea World), Burgundy is given a second chance by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker, Spider-Man 2), a news director who offers Burgundy the chance to be a part of a brand new 24-hour cable news startup. Ron quickly gathers his old news team, including clueless weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, Get Smart), pretty boy Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, Role Models), and sports expert Champ Kind (David Koechner, Piranha 3DD). Can Burgundy regain his place at the top of the news pyramid? Will he be able to beat the ratings of a newer, younger, and brasher newscaster (James Marsden, X2: X-Men United)? And can he rekindle the love he once knew with his wife and son? Stay tuned, New York...and stay classy.
I have friends who have sworn a religious allegiance to Will Ferrell's 2004 comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. One of them even owns a framed poster that hangs next to his television set, letting everyone who enters his house know exactly what is his favorite movie. Anchorman was not an extraordinary success, upon its initial theatrical release. The Judd Apatow produced comedy was successful enough, but didn't cause major waves at the box office. However, over the past decade, the film found a growing fan base who obviously clamored for a sequel. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
I was not a fan of Anchorman. I saw the film in 2004 and disliked it. Thanks to all the hype over the sequel, I decided to revisit the movie to see if my initial reaction had changed. It hadn't. The humor is still far too scattershot, as if the actors were just making things up as they went along, which makes it feel like a half baked script. I'd hoped Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would refine and tighten these characters, but that didn't end up being the case. The good news is, if you're a fan of the original, you'll get a kick out of the sequel. The bad news is, if you weren't a fan, well...you can probably finish this sentence any way you like.
I find Ron Burgundy to be less of a character and more of a collection of personalities, each more abrasive than the next. Ron blusters, screams, sings (yes, there's a musical number about a pet shark named Dobie), and blunders his way through the entire movie. The supporting characters -- equally as important and almost as irritating -- are portrayed by able-bodied comedic actors who give their all but still come up short. It's clear Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate are having a great time, it's just a shame that doesn't translate to the screen. The only character whose general stupidity works is Steve Carell's dim-bulb weatherman Brick Tamland. Carell gives the funniest performance, because his character is supposed to be an idiot. Anchorman 2 would have been much funnier, if the characters around Brick acted like actual human beings and Brick was the only stupid one.
The screenplay (co-written by Ferrell and director Adam McKay) is far too obtuse for its own good. During a dinner scene with Ron, his girlfriend, and her all-black family, Ron attempts to assimilate into the group by reinforcing black stereotypes...over, and over, and over again. The family members -- all written as actual people and not caricatures -- are understandably offended, and let Ron know how inappropriate his demeanor is. Ron doesn't listen and keeps going...and going, and going. The reason this scene doesn't work is because Ron hears they're offended, but is (apparently) so stupid he doesn't understand basic English, has incurred monumental brain damage, or secretly suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. This scene is so poorly written and executed that it nearly sinks the entire film. Will Ferrell can be very funny when given the right material. When let loose upon a movie screen, his shtick wears thin rather quickly.
You know a movie has failed when the most entertaining moments are during a bizarre final city park rumble between rival news teams -- MTV, BBC, History Channel -- and all the famous faces who pop up (echoing the finale of the first film). It's impressive to see so many Hollywood stars featured in one short segment, and yet therein lies the problem. I was entertained not because of the story or characters, but because "Hey look, it's Harrison Ford!" Also, for some reason there's a Minotaur and the ghost of Stonewall Jackson, which only reinforces the fact that the writers weren't' really trying to put together a story so much as a collection of non-sequiturs that work together as well as using Ben-Gay for birthday cake frosting.
At this point in the review, I want to make it clear I really, really wanted to like Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. I sat down with high hopes and walked away with the realization that I had just sat through the definition of a sequel: same characters, same situations, diminishing returns. I guess it's pretty clear I wasn't a fan. The humor is so brash and in-your-face it becomes irritating, and the characters are like Frankenstein patchworks that have almost no rhyme or rhythm. This just in: the movie doesn't work.
Paramount's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray) is presented in 2.40:1/1080p HD widescreen, offering up a perfect looking image; colors and black levels are all solid and the visuals are crystal clear. Hard as I might try, I couldn't find a single flaw with the transfer. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track has its fair share of surround moments, not the least of which are from the early '80s pop songs swirling around the cast. Although much of the film is dialogue driven, there are shark attacks and explosions, which will give your home theater a hefty workout. Also included on this disc are Dolby 5.1 mixes in Spanish and French, as well as English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
This beefed up 2-disc release of Anchorman 2 includes three cuts of the film -- theatrical release, extended cut, and the super-sized version -- plus a wide array of bonus features. A commentary from writer/director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow, and actors Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Dave Koechner; multiple featurettes on the making of the film ("Behind-the-Scenes: Newsroom," "Behind-the-Scenes," "Auditions"), a gag reel, outtakes, some random featurettes ("Catfight," "Table Read Through"), deleted/extended/alternate scenes, a few previs segments, a music video featuring Jack Black ("Benefit for 826LA: Spoiler Alert"), trailers for the film, a digital copy, and a DVD copy.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues may speak to those who loved the first movie, but even they may find it to be more of the same without the spark.
Newsflash! This one's a dud.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 143 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Cut
* Extended Cut
* Extended/Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* UltraViolet Download
* Official Site
* Facebook Page