Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Legend Continues to Amuse: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (2013)

Much to my girlfriend's chagrin, I had the preview for this film memorized, and would repeat lines from it ("...93...93!") way too often. I waited until video to sit down and revisit the Channel 4 news team, watching the theatrical version first.

While the original "Anchorman" ground it's wheels in the finale, this film takes up where that one left off, error-wise. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job as his wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) takes a new job as a national anchor in New York City. Ron is approached by Freddie (Dylan Baker) to take the graveyard shift of a new cable news channel, and must reassemble his trusty news team and head to NYC. Champ (David Koechner) runs a disgusting fried chicken restaurant (they serve bat), Brian (Paul Rudd) takes photographs of kittens for inspirational posters, and Brick (Steve Carell) is thought dead. Veronica and Ron's son (Judah Nelson) are already in New York when the team finally arrives, with Veronica taking up with psychologist Gary (Greg Kinnear).

Ron butts heads with the new network's star anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), as well as his new boss, African-American Lisa Jackson (Meagan Good). Ron and his new boss begin dating, and Ron's newscasts are ratings blockbusters because they don't deliver the news people should watch, but want to watch. Of course, as narrator Bill Kurtis tells us, Ron has an Icarus-like fall, and must claw his way back into the lives of his family, and his news team.

The first half hour of the story, with Ron and Veronica breaking up and his reassembling of the news team is amusing, but also a mess of editing. There is no rhythm to the scenes, it seems the cuts are placed precisely before the actors break into laughter. I mostly grinned through the beginning of the film, until the cast hits New York, and things get terribly funny. The new cast members are great, holding their own with Ferrell and company. Kristen Wiig's Chani matches Brick line for line in weirdness. Meagan Good is sexy and perfect. There are oddball segments (Ron's lighthouse retreat, the raising of a shark) that had me question where the film makers were going before I gave in and somehow found myself giggling hysterically all the way through. Ferrell's Burgundy is a lovable buffoon, whether making inappropriate racist comments at Lisa's parents' dinner table, or cursing in front of his angelic son. McKay and Ferrell go way off the rails at the end, in an anchor team fight that will go down in movie history for all of its cameos (save one...the hell with spoilers, what the hell is Kanye West doing in this segment? He's awful!), but the build-up to the special effects-laden silliness is both appropriate and very funny. This film is equal to the original film, but I am kind of hoping a Part 3 isn't on the horizon. It would be hard to beat the lunacy of this. On a side note, I live in Bismarck, North Dakota, where Ferrell as Burgundy anchored a local news broadcast a while back. I wish he had been able to do more, but it was nice to see my home state get some national attention!

Now that I have finally seen the theatrical version, I will eventually get around to the alternate versions. If anything, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" has given me even more lines to repeat to my girlfriend. By Tony Danza's scrotum, I know she can't wait. (* * * *) out of five stars.