I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Anchorman, so when the sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was announced a decade later, my immediate reaction was “wait for the DVD”. But last week, Paramount announced “Anchorman 2: Super Sized R-Rated Version” (with 736 more jokes) as a promotional gimmick for one week only. As marketing tricks go, it’s pretty clever, so I decided to check it out.
Anchorman 2 continues the exploits of Ron Burgundy and moves the action from San Diego (pronounced sahn-dee-ahh-go) to New York City (pronounced New York City) in the 1980s. The plot centers around Burgundy’s mission to bring his old news crew back together and resultant buffoonery as they are tasked with anchoring the world’s first 24 hour news channel, GNN.
For me, Will Ferrell’s most interesting quality on screen is his ability to take really creepy characters and make the audience relate to them. Most of Ferrell’s characters are complete idiots, but his ability to take that cluelessness and make us laugh gives most of his them a kind of edgy endearing quality. When he is paired with a “straight” foil character, Ferrell’s brand of lunacy really shines. Greg Kinnear does this really well as Gary, who plays Burgundy’s rival for the love of Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) but the chief villain of the movie is dashing lead anchor of GNN, Jack Lime (played by James Marsden). Unfortunately, Marsden isn’t really given much to do in this movie other than to give Will Ferrell someone to react against.
Where the Anchorman concept suffers, in my opinion, is that Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy is surrounded by guys who are all equally buffoonish. We get pervy ladies man Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sexually confused sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner) and dim witted weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). They each have their own gags, catch phrases and are painted in broad and ridiculous strokes. When it works, it looks like four actors who are having a lot of fun together.
But… when it doesn’t work, it’s grating. For me there were a lot of times where it doesn’t work, particularly a whole romantic subplot involving Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig that really just slows the movie down. Anchorman 2 admirably tries to inject a bit of social commentary and satire around the idea of the 24 hour news cycle and the dumbing down of of “news that’s not really news” but that concept has been handled already in other, better movies.
For all of its stumbling, Anchorman 2 does manage a strong finish. My favorite part of the original Anchorman was the newscaster gang-war scene and I wasn’t sure if they would be able to top that in the sequel. All I will tell you is that they do, and it’s ridiculous. Anchorman 2 is almost worth seeing for this sequence alone.
All in all, Anchorman 2 is a funny comedy that has some great gags but doesn’t really rise above the sum of all it’s parts. If you are a hardcore fan of the original Anchorman, this movie was pretty much made for you. If you haven’t already seen it, the “super-sized” version is worth a look, especially since it’s only going to be a one week run in theaters. It’s got two musical numbers, lots of ad-libbing and alternate takes not found in the original theatrical release. But, if you’ve already seen the sequel (unless you are a Ron Burgundy super-fan) the alternate version is a bit of a double-dip, and it’s probably worth waiting for on DVD/Blu Ray where it will almost certainly be included as a companion to the original PG-13 release.