December 18th, 2013
Release length: 1:59:00
The first entry was a look back at the early days of news broadcasting being a largely male dominated world before times changed to allow for women to become news anchors. It was a period piece that suited the attitude and mentality of Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his supporting news crew of Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), leading to the husband and wife news team of Ron and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, we find our cast out of the seventies and on the cusp of the modern twenty-four hour news channel GNN (Global News Network), maintaining that hint of satire once again.
In this chapter, Ron ends up fired from his job, while Veronica is given a promotion. Feeling betrayed, he walks out on her and his son, doing odd jobs to survive such as an announcer at Seaworld, which he handles in a drunken stupor before attempting suicide. This is when he is approached to join the newly formed GNN, funded by the owner of Koala Air Lines. Unfortunately he lost touch with his news crew, and goes out on a brief journey to find them, which includes Champ owning a fast food restaurant, Brian a photographer, and Brick having died. Once the group is assembled, they become part of the news organization, all while Ron develops a rivalry with Jack Lime (James Marsden). The two make a bet on ratings, leading to Ron’s team to go with the concept of telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear, thus inventing the modern news reporting style we have today of live police chases and condensed news coverage on generally non-news topics.
When you break this film down, it’s actually a very brilliant take on the evolution of news coverage to where we stand today, and how major corporations can manipulate the broadcasts to make sure they don’t become the news despite the news originally being about them, politics, and the like. While Ron and crew seem rough around the edges and completely out of place for not fitting with the times, it makes perfect sense to the story. The world is changing, and their kind of news anchor are becoming a dying breed. It also seems that as the news world changes, the world does too, often taking characteristics that you could easily link to programs such as Lassie that became cultural icons when this film was meant to take place. The problem is that, even though the concept itself is brilliant, the writing itself is absolute garbage.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues tries too hard to outdo its predecessor in every way possible, only making the iconic cast look like a bunch of incompetent four year olds with the exception of Brick who is essentially downgraded to a socially awkward mentally challenged man stuck at two years of age thanks to events like his supposed death by running out into the ocean to pet a bird he saw, walking into his own funeral and giving a eulogy, right down to hiding and having to be bribed out with a balloon after being yelled at. Much like in Kevin Smith films where Silent Bob gets a moment of intelligence, Brick has his two moments where he’ll say something smart, then immediately go back to having the brain of boccoli. It’s as if the writing teams for today’s Family Guy series and The Hangover III came together and decided to make everyone as dumb as humanly possible because slightly above self-managing mental retardation is exactly what a serious topical comedy with a point to get across needs.
The major killing factor is that there are only a small handful of jokes that work in a film that is just shy of two hours long including credits, and those are often easy to forget. The chroma-key weather forecast with Brick had a few comical moments, and the shouting of “ninety-five” during the breakdown was far more hysterical than it had any right to be, the news package on crack and the crew smoking it in the studio, and the deep fried bat wing discussion that had a few chuckle worthy lines overall have the potential to stick with you for a while. Then there’s the scene where Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) starts coming on to Ron, which is great and worth a few laughs. Sadly the dinner scene with her family is just painful to watch due to how unnecessarily over-the-top the awkwardness is, especially when you realize the only point it serves was to pad the film out since it’s never brought up again. There’s also the scene where Brick defends his also socially awkward girlfriend which just seems like kids yelling at a stranger, even calling out for an adult.
But it isn’t until the very end, say the last twenty minutes, where this film basically pulls a Cabin Fever. Most of it keeps a level of reality to it, which all starts to degrade about the time Ron ends up blind and taking care of a shark that swam onto his property, raising it like it were his own child. He slowly starts to realize what damage he has done during his time at GNN, makes amends for it on air while while giving a quick jab at Koala Air Lines in solid comedic timing, all in an effort to make it to his son’s piano recital. It’s at this point this movie takes the previous fight scene from the first and blows it way out of proportion with far more varied news teams including BBC News, MTV News, the History Channel, as well as a news team from Canada with Jim Carey heading the fight for them and stealing the scene. Even Brick’s signature trident makes an appearance, but so does the ghost of Stonewall Jackson and a Minotaur. It gets even sillier when Brick’s trident is eandomly replaced with a gun from the future, and the MTV crew calls in an air strike just to name a few things that destroy the films believability, sending it into a cartoonish world of impossibilities that are there simply to say “You made it this far, so enjoy the ride,” all the while making all the character development seem worthless and cheap.
And then there’s the acting. For the most part, it’s obvious everyone wants to be there, but those who return from the first film are either phoning it in or a completely different character. Will Ferrell remains true to Ron, but rarely ever ends up believable as a competent adult. Instead he’s at the mental level Brick was at in the first film most of the time. Steve Carrell is just a lot of shouting and standing around awkwardly, and Christina Applegate thinks she’s Rachel from Friends. While there’s little depth to him this time around, David Koechner does a good job reprising his role as Champ, and Brian Fantana has a little more growth all around, allowing Paul Rudd to incorporate a extra range in his acting compared to what he did in the first film. Even of the new cast members, Meagan Good is the only one that really stands out, but in the two hours the film plods on, there’s no background to her other than stereotypical Blacksploitation characteristics of a black woman with power. Given the time period this seems to take place, surely there was some kind of struggle, which simply isn’t acknowledged.
Even the production didn’t look all that fantastic for a high definition or modern film. In fact it simply looked like the quality one would expect from a traditional DVD. It’s clear the film was shot in digital, and outside certain crisp elements like being able to clearly see the lines on the various suits worn, the film itself just looks flat, which is hard to excuse by today’s standards. Even on Blu-Ray (which was the format I saw this film on) it doesn’t look very sharp. However, the sensation of sixties-era values could be felt in the lighting and set designs and various locations. It was a nice touch that you could pick up on more as the film progressed than towards the start, but given the time period of this entry, making the final product feel more like a prequel than an actual sequel years later. It’s as if someone decided to take Happy Days and set it in the eighties, all the while barely making any visual changes that cause the sixties to still be pretty obvious.
While Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is an absolutely brilliant movie in concept, it’s a terrible film in execution. Most character interactions fail miserably, the cast is flat, the jokes aren’t funny or end up forgettable five minutes later, and it tries too hard to outdo the last film to the point it destroys all reality and actually treads into Science Fiction at the end. This effectively destroys any character growth and the point that today’s news is not news, especially when reported on a twenty-four news network with big corporations sponsoring it. Think Family Guy with varied Peter Griffin’s laced with unneccessary Winnie the Pooh grade story naration, as well as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas as far as the putting family first concept goes. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is an insulting film that treats it’s audience of loyal fans as if they have the mentality of Brick’s character in this film, which is a shame. It’s brilliant plot and underlying story line end up the only reason to even bother watching this incredibly botched sequel. Maybe the other versions recently released on Blu-Ray will be better, but the initial theatrical version (which is the only option available on the Blu-Ray version you can rent from the local Redbox kiosk) is just a waste of time and money.
|Overall Score: 2.5/10