ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
With the 70s behind him, San Diego's top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk, as are Ron's co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) - none of whom will make it easy to stay classy...while taking the nation's first 24-hour news channel by storm.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's not really my bag, but for the many who get excited by the Will Ferrell brand of absurdist, satirical humour, this Anchorman sequel gift wraps plenty of crazy ideas, slapstick and occasional hilarity. It soars when it's hot and bums out when it's not; its celebrity cast adding salt and pepper to the action and pricking our interest when we think things are becoming a little forced. Like the 2004 original, former Saturday Night Live writer Adam McKay is back in the director's chair and the script (by McKay and Ferrell) is a roller coaster ride of highlights and troughs as it spits out political incorrectness and mercilessly targets the 24/7 news cycle, which back in the 80s was nothing but a wild idea.
After an eye-catching opening tease involving a blood-thirsty shark, the set up offers the timbre and style of the comedy as Ferrell's news man Ron Burgundy, recruits his old San Diego motley news team to head to the Big Apple to join GNN, the Global News Network. I must mention Baxter the canine actor because he is very cute, doesn't miss a trick and is a constant presence throughout. Steve Carell, with the contagious laugh as Brick Tamland is a hoot and the relationship he develops with Kristen Wigg's extremely eccentric Chani is one of the film's highlights (Wigg is brilliant). I loved the scene in which Harrison Ford as the network's prime time newsreader drops bombshells to the ambitious Ron and his co-anchor wife Veronica (Christina Applegate). Needless to say, ego wins over love and family.
Playing the colour card is one of the script's key political trumps with Ron's (mis)handling of GNN producer Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), both professionally and personally. Issues of integrity and corruption are played out through GNN's Aussie head honcho (Josh Lawson) who runs a suss airline named Koala and I like the absurdity of the ice skating sequence in which Ron, dressed all in white plays the flute before a dramatic plot point.
The sheer novelty of all the star cameos brings its own dynamic - the climactic sequence in which the stars pour out (Jim Carey, Marion Cotillard, Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Will Smith, John C. Reilly, Liam Neeson and more) is a tour de force of sheer madness. The audience at the preview laughed loudly and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the action, whereas I was a bit disappointed that I didn't like it more. There are some good ideas but the film just didn't deliver the grit that I hoped.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Although I preferred him when he was so dumb he couldn't recognise his own name on the autocue, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) retains his stoopid persona long enough to generate some laughs at his own expense. In fact the people in the preview screening around me were cackling so much I got irritated. The screenplay this time - nine years after Ron Burgundy's screen debut - tries to edge closer to reality and hits a few satirical notes about the dumbing down of news coverage. But in case this is seen as too earnest an agenda, there are plenty of bad taste jokes to ensure 'balance'. No-one can accuse the film of being a work of political correctness.
Some of the scenes where Ron Burgundy smashes through social norms (like the running gag about his boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) being black, right through to a family dinner with her folks where he tries to ingratiate himself in the worst possible way) are so overdone that farce kicks in. Overstatement is actually the film's mantra, that and crudity. For fans, these are golden rules and there is nothing funnier than Ron Burgundy making a fool of himself in front of ... well, anyone really.
For the most part, the film tells the story of how Ron and his close knit news team reunite at the brand new, 24 hour news channel, GNN (Global News Network), set up by Aussie millionaire Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson) who also owns Koala Airlines. It's here that Ron stumbles onto the idea of playing police chases as news, and grabbing the ratings.
The story flip flops through a couple of excursions to the dark side (he goes blind), a subplot about his relationship with his 7 year old son Walter and another subplot about their relationship with a shark. The zaniness is piled high, with Steve Carrel and Kristin Wiig as a couple of dopey innocents who fall in love while sharing eccentricities.
There is lots of activity even if it doesn't always get anywhere, and the performances are all subservient to the film's comedic ambitions. The film concludes in an excess of riches in the form of high profile cameos for a Monty Python-esque battle in a park, which serves as a sort of Team Hollywood endorsement of the film.
It's not really my kind of comedy, but I do admire the risky inventions and daring ideas - even if they don't all work.
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ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (M)
CAST: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Adam McKay, Will Farrell
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCRIPT: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITOR: Brent White
MUSIC: Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 19, 2013