With the 70's behind him, San Diego's top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Also back for more 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) - All of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy… while taking New York's first 24-hour news channel by storm. (from MovieWeb.com)
It's been 9 years since Will Ferrell helped director Adam McKay make his debut with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The film received a mixed reception but has since become a kind of cult classic. Ferrell's most popular character, arguably aside from Buddy in Elf, has been trying to come back to the big screen for several years now, but the studio continued to pass on the sequel. However, last year, it was given the green light and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was expected to hit theaters earlier this year. It was later pushed back to Christmas and now the sequel is finding an audience for news fans and devoted ones.
The first Anchorman had a pretty satisfying ending, so there never really seemed to be a particular need for a sequel. However, its cult status through the years has paved the way for one to become a reality. Anchorman 2 picks up many years after Ron and his bride Veronica Corningstone have moved from San Diego to New York to work together as co-anchors. When Veronica is promoted and Ron is not (by a wonderful cameo from a favorite actor), the couple split up and Ron is down on his luck, back in San Diego, until he's given the opportunity to join the first-ever 24-hour news station. Ron then assembles his Channel 4 News Team buddies and joins the new station in New York, GNN. From the start, the film has a much different tone than the original movie, which is a bit strange considering most of cast and crew are back. But given the move from the 70s of the first film to the 80s of this one, it isn't a huge shock that they decided to change the tone of the film to feel and look more like one from the late 70s/early 80s (with plenty of references to the time period too... and beyond). Ron Burgundy's world is less colorful and stylized this time around, but it seems, as the film progresses, that McKay and Ferrell almost want to ease the viewer back into this comedic universe. Things are often ridiculous early on in the movie, but things don't really truly get too over-the-top until further into its running time... something that serves as one of its biggest problems, from a storytelling standpoint.
But before I delve into everything that is wrong with Anchorman 2, I have to admit that I laughed harder during this movie than I have in a very long time. Fans of the characters will find a lot to like about this second go-around, but those who especially loved Steve Carell's weatherman Brick in the first Anchorman will find his amped screen time nothing short of delightful. Back when the first movie released in 2004, Carell was a much, much lesser-known actor who had gotten his start on The Daily Show and then stole a key scene in Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty in 2003. He wouldn't even take the lead in the U.S. version of the TV show The Office until 2005. But in Anchorman, his dimwitted weatherman, Brick, added a lovable innocence to the crude comedy that littered the film. Here, Carell gets a much bigger role and even a love interest in the equally dopey Chani, who's played by his Despicable Me 2 co-star, comedienne Kristen Wiig. The two are perfect for each other and the filmmakers don't seem to have trouble giving memorable moments to either one of them throughout the movie. Anchorman 2 is Ferrell's show first and foremost, though, but things really work best when his Channel 4 News Team buddies share the screen with him. There are many moments, however, where they're absent and those tend to be the only times the movie threatens to drag a bit.
And drag it does, unfortunately. The first film clocked in at a cool 90 minutes while this sequel is just a minute shy of 2 hours (It's almost as if Ferrell and McKay are attempting to make up for lost time). Sadly, it does start to feel overlong when the movie takes a page out of Talladega Nights and has Ron suffer an injury that helps him find some much-needed humility. However, it feels a lot less like an Anchorman film and just like a hodge podge of intensely random humor. Some of the jokes work (including the fact that Ron raises a shark and sings a song for it when he sets it free), while this side trip from the main story otherwise just feels overlong (Except for a well-placed Brick joke. All I have to say is: caulk & checkers). This sequence happens about 3/4 into the movie and McKay and Ferrell seem to drag their feet to the grand finale just a little too much. It's unfortunate, too, because most of the middle is brimming with laughs and then things just feel a little too silly (even for a movie like this) for its own good. Very few of the jokes are recycled from the first film, and this entry's extended running time does seem to accommodate some fair callbacks to the original as well as the addition of plenty of new gags. But the grand finale is a major callback to the first film that offers so many huge cameos that each one feels like a one-up of the next, with things just getting more outrageous by the second. It's gut-bustingly funny if you don't mind a new take on a favorite scene from the original, but it's just so much fun, it's easily forgivable how familiar it otherwise is.
My real biggest problem with the film is the same problem I had with the original Anchorman -- the crude humor. This outing starts to feel less crude and profane when the movie starts, but once McKay and Ferrell seem more comfortable in their roles again, crude and inappropriate jokes start flying left and right. A brief sex scene between Ron and Linda (played by Meagan Good) is surreal and surprisingly amusing, but obviously inappropriate and unnecessary to the film (the inserts of innocent classic TV scenes, however, is brilliant). The same can be said for some potentially offensive racial jokes that will surely make some people uncomfortable. Ron's first reaction to meeting Linda is to just blurt out the word "black!" repeatedly (which is reminiscent of the "mole" gag from Austin Powers 3), and when he tries to "fit in" during dinner with her family, he makes many offensive remarks, including trying to talk jive and not being too subtle about his physical relationship with Linda. But the film definitely errs on the side of the inappropriate far, far too often.
Profanity is a bit infrequent in the firt quarter of the movie but it picks up a bit as the film progresses, including a muttered "F--- you" from Ron to Veronica's boyfriend Gary (Greg Kinnear) and several uses of the "S" word, "g*dd*mn," and other profane and crude words and phrases. There's also some drug use that's intended to be funny, where the news team investigates crack use by smoking it live on the air. But then Ron mentions two other times in the film that he's used it again, and it almost starts to uncomfortably sound like an endorsement. Finally, there is some goofy, comedic violence that is mostly just downright silly, but it gets more intense during the climax of the film (including a minotaur's arm being cut off and a ghost sucking the souls of his victims out of their bodies, in a very silly fashion).
In the end, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a ridiculous, silly, over-the-top sequel that will probably polarize most audiences; you'll either love it or hate it. The relentless crude jokes that permeate most of the film aren't even its funniest bits, and it makes the film an especially inappropriate watch for younger viewers. Fans of the original will most likely enjoy seeing these characters again, but considering how everyone's expectations will be different, it's unlikely that you're guaranteed to love it just because of the original. It's far too crude to make it recommendable, which is unfortunate, but it's also one of the funniest films I've seen in the cinema in recent memory. Ron Burgundy is back, even if that means his latest movie is as flawed as his egotistical character is. (Oh, and there is a brief post-credits scene, but it's just a couple seconds extra of a scene earlier in the movie, but it ends up focusing on the character of Brick. It's probably not worth sitting through the long credits for, but it did make us laugh.)- John DiBiase (reviewed: 12/19/13)
Both Blu-Ray discs have their own batch of special features...
Disc One: Theatrical and Unrated Versions
Unrated Version (2 hrs, 3 minutes) - The "Unrated" version is about four minutes longer than the theatrical PG-13 version and, if it were to be rated, it would have been R due to language. There are a total of about 5 uses of the "F" word, with one added by Ron at the beginning of the movie, which he says on the air as one of the reasons his boss thought he was terrible. Ron later suggests Jack Lime change his name to "D*** F***" and Lime refuses to, but later we hear him say it on the air and it's written on the screen as starting with a "Ph" instead of "F." Finally, Veronica forcefully mouths the "F" word later on. There is some alternate dialog used which isn't as funny as the theatrical version, including Tina Fey's cameo character using "c*nt" in a surprising way. And there's a walk-and-talk scene between Ron and his 7-year-old son where he encourages his son to curse at his mom's boyfriend Gary (And we hear the little boy use the "S" word a few times). Overall, while the first Anchorman movie added a couple funny things to their "unrated" version, this one largely just falls flat.
Commentary (2 hrs, 3 minutes) - You can only hear the commentary track on the "unrated" version of the movie. However, while I've heard many commentary tracks through the years, this is literally one of the most disappointing ones. You'd kind of think that a commentary track that features director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow and actors Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner would be side-splittingly funny, but that's just not the case here. There's occasional use of the "F" word from them (mainly when commenting on the ones used in the movie) and other language, but for the most part, they seldom actually talk about the production of the film and seem to just frequently talk about inside jokes and stories amongst themselves that make little to no sense to the viewer. It's surprisingly not really worth the time to listen to.
Behind the Scenes: Newsroom (18:50) - This is a nice little making-of featurette that talks about the production of the film, how they built the massive newsroom set from scratch and how they created the "crack" use scene with harmless materials (the crack rock was marble and they used nicotine-free cigarettes to generate the smoke). Most interestingly, however, is we learn here that James Marsden, who plays Jack Lime in this movie, originally read for the parts of Brick and Brian back in 2003, and we briefly see his original screen tests!
Gag Reel (14:59) -- The gag reel is split up into 2 parts for some reason, and they're not censored at all. Some of it is actually very funny, but the fact that profanity (some of it strong) is used freely makes it a little more jarring.
Table Read (21:52) - Here we see 9 scenes at a table read of the original script (before ad-libs and such). The main cast is seen sitting around a table with scripts in hand as they run through their lines. The scenes included are: "Horse P*ss (from the R-rated version)," "Bats," "RV," "Lace-Man," "The Bet," "Brick Has a Date," "Crack," "Family Dinner," "Lighthouse." Most interesting is seeing the origin of some scenes before the ad-libbing morphed them into the film versions.
Welcome to the Dolphin Show (2:03) is a string of Ferrell just riffing as Ron as the drunken host of the dolphin show.
Line-o-Rama (8:14) is a string of different, alternate line takes and ad-libs. There's a run of just the Brick and Chani interactions that left me in tears; it's so, so funny. But Kristen Wiig does drop the "F" word once.
Cat Fight (1:49) is an extended series of Linda and Veronica trash-talking and verbally threatening each other.
News-o-Rama (2:28) is a series of alternate ad-libs and takes of stuff spoken from the news desk.
Kench-o-Rama (1:40) is just more of the nonsensical Australian things that Kench says.
Behind the Scenes (46:16) -- And here is where they talk about how they planned on making it more of a musical at first! We see a lot of footage of the cast and crew choreographing the two songs and then see parts of those finished scenes. And for anyone curious, we get to see here how they filmed the famous RV scene! It's pretty neat to see how they accomplished it with green screens, rigs and slow-motion cameras. We then hear how they had to find a new Baxter since the original dog had passed away since the first film, and then they talk about the special effects used for the shark, Doby. It all ends with a behind-the-scenes look at filming the news fight at the end. There are 2 uses of the "F" word in this featurette (including, surprisingly so, one from Harrison Ford remarking on dialog he delivered while filming his cameo at the end), and some other language, but it's otherwise a really great featurette.
Deleted Scenes (10:14) - There are a total of 8 deleted scenes. The first is Ron leaving Veronica's home where he just met Gary and seeing Walter watching him leave from a window. He then vows to help Walter. The next is a short scene between Freddie and Linda where she asks him about the bet Ron made with Jack. Next is Walter's custody hearing, and then we see two different versions of a scene where Ron is ordering around some crew at work and telling them they need to laugh at his jokes. We then see a scene where Brian and Champ are in a bar trying to pick up girls but Champ scares them off, and then they run into Jack. Finally, we see more stuff between Ron and the news team at the lighthouse and then a second version of it. Most of these scenes were fine to have left out.
Extended / Alternate Scenes (1 hr, 31 min) - There is over an hour and a half of extended / alternate scenes. If three versions of the movie aren't enough, this should satisfy any potential craving for more. It's a lot of the same stuff in the other 3 films with some other versions of dialog within. The condoms sequence is incredibly lengthy here, with every vulgar condom cover and name showcased and focused on. Interestingly, though, that scene originally ended with Veronica and Gary visiting the team at work. Overall, there are many more crude jokes here and mostly expendable stuff, with some scenes going on far too long (like the doctor checking out Ron's eyesight). However, all of the additional gags from Brick and Chani are definitely worth watching.
Auditions (6:34) - Here we see Megan Good's audition as Linda with Will Ferrell as Ron. After that, we see two auditions from 2003, including Dylan Baker, who played Freddie in Anchorman 2, reading for their San Diego boss character, Ed Harken. We then see Amy Poehler, who makes a cameo during the news fight in this movie, reading for Veronica Corningstone.
Benefit for 826LA "Spoiler Alert" (3:39) - Here, at a Benefit for 826LA, actor Jack Black says he was asked to sing a song from Anchorman 2 but then says he wrote his own. He then launches into a song he wrote about how angry he is that his motorcycle riding character from the first movie isn't back in the sequel. While it's played for laughs, he angrily uses the "F" word at least three times and it, ultimately, doesn't really sound like he's kidding. It's a pretty brash and kind of awkward extra to include.
Previsualizations - (8:47) - There are some animated storyboards for the "RV" and finale "Shark Attack" scenes included here. However, the storyboards are totally swapped out for a bizarre crew-member live action take on the climactic news team fight. They test out a lot of the ideas and special effects used in the finished film.
Overall, there's lots here for the Anchorman fans to enjoy. Personally, I'm still not a fan of profanity-laden comedy or really vulgar stuff either. I do like the tone of the comedy of these films, but the fact that they unnecessarily hop over the line with the sole intent to get a laugh through mere shock value can be rather frustrating. None of the versions are suitable for younger audiences, so only diehard fans need apply.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/30/14)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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