Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is long and necessary for the survival of the human race

anchorman-2-quad

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – 2013

Director Adam McKay
Actors Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, Josh Lawson, Harrison Ford
Writers Ferrell and McKay

As a sequel to one of the great comedies of modernity, Anchorman 2 was bound to disappoint.  And disappoint it does, early and often.  There are too many cameos, Veronica Corningstone has a wig, there is just one kid when the previous film clearly indicated two, and Carell finds love in a character too much like himself. One wishes they really could stick a pencil in his mouth at times.  That’s just to name a few.  As much as I looked forward to seeing this movie with my pal, The Grouchnapper, when we got out of the film, we sat there, contemplating our venture over burgers at Five Guys

Finally, after what seemed like 35 seconds, The Grouchnapper looked forward with his eyes staring vacantly into nowhere and said:

“I’m BAHLIND!”

Mission accomplished.  Ron Burgundy wins again.  What we forgot is that even if the film is bad, like many people stubbornly insist the original was, to the mind of its title character, everything about him has to be great.  Even the tragedy.  And tragically great it is.

“By the hymen of Olivia Newton John!”

Who else is brave enough to start the movie with Christopher Cross?  Who is brave enough to call a dolphin an asshole?  Who else would have himself painted on the side of an RV with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  Who else would bring a shark back to health while working through personal issues that took him out of the limelight?  Ron Burgundy.  That’s who.  Damn you for doubting him.

The story starts with Ron and Veronica in New York.  They are weekend newscasters waiting for Mack Tannen (Ford) to retire.  The moment he does, one of the couple is promoted.  Guess which one.  The other one ends up working at Sea World for one or two awkward scenes.  Next thing you know, because the film is not called Anchorlady, Ron gets an offer he can’t refuse, and they are getting the news team back together.  The sequence has its good moments (chicken made of bats and cute kitten death) and some complete misses (Brick speaking at his own funeral).  But it’s important that they are back together, not how, why or who’s driving the RV.  That will result in one hell of a visual every time.

“I’m so lonely, I paid a hobo to spoon with me.”

Back in New York, they find that their position is big on money (start up cable news network) but low on prestige (someone has to work the early morning shift). Dylan Baker plays the recruiter for Ron.  His job as Freddie Shapp is to keep pushing and promoting Ron no matter what.  He’s kind of takes the place of Harken and Garth, minus the laughs.

There are so many attempts at humor, you’re laughing every minute even if it’s only 1 out of 4 attempts.  It’s so great to see the guys back together again, the viewer just wants to give them all a long, uncomfortable hug.  The soundtrack is classic cheese, and the songs fit the time, even if Brick says “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts” years before that song or movie came out.  Maybe Ray Parker Jr. stole Ghost Busters from him.

Greg Kinnear is great as “Gary, Veronica’s lover.”  His over-analytic pony tail psychology is perfect for the time and it’s wonderful that Ron just want’s to reach out from the stone age that he lives in and punch him in the face.  This perfect sequence shows everything that is great about the Anchorman films.  They study a time through the characters.  The late 70’s and early 80’s were filled with guys like Gary.  They officially became extinct right after the movie Singles. That’s a fact.

The hair, fashion and “brainstorming” on how to fill 24 hours a day with what eventually became the “news cycle” is equal the idea of an “anchorlady” in the first.  Ron’s analogy on telling people “what they want to hear” is spot on.  Champ Kind’s “Whammy” reporting is a prescient take on the annoying Bermanization of sports.  Fantana doesn’t lose any ground from his first go round.  Carell’s weather reports are entertaining.

“By the bedpan of Gene Rayburn!”

The laborious scenes involving Carell and Wiig are not anywhere close to enjoyable.  As good as he was in the first film, the McKay and Farrell should have kept a lid on Brick, not loosened the leash.

Meagan Good as the boss adds a welcome element to the story, bringing a young, capable black woman into the ancient world of the Anchorman crew.  Some of the racial stuff is really forced, but the love scenes are some of the funniest ever seen.  Seeing her as the boss, however, brings the film firmly into its place and time.

“I’m not trying to be funny here, but are you sure he’s not a midget with a learning disability?”

The film finds inspiration in the strangest place – a work related injury reminiscent of Chazz Michael Michaels – but it’s so out-of-place, it actually works.  The ensuing recovery provides many blissful moments.  The segment almost gets the film to a successful close.

The film is almost completely derailed by the Central Park battle.  Too many combatants, way to many cameos and a Minotaur.  There is a shotgun approach at this point as much as anything else in the film.  A complete sacrifice of quality for quantity.  But:

“What in the name of Dan Issel?”

Gary, delightful Gary, saves the day with his mind powers.

Just like the original classic, Anchorman 2 gets better with repeated viewings.  The alternate version is more confusing than funny, but I think I would like it more the second time out as well.  Anchorman 2 ends things with Jon Waite’s second most famous solo song.  If you didn’t know it was his song, your are not alone.  Thankfully, like all the smallest details, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay never forget anything good.  We, the grateful many, will never forget Ron Burgundy.

(**** out of *****)

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