Anchorman 2 delivers the goods
Great Odin's Raven! – Sequel recaptures essence of original, mostly
Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am
Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Meagan Good, Dylan Baker, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, Greg Kinnear, and Harrison Ford, among others
Directed by Adam McKay
Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
Rated: 14A for crude content and offensive language. See www.albertafilmratings.ca for more information.
The dimwit is one of those contemporary classic American characters like Homer Simpson or Fred Flintstone or Al Bundy or Archie Bunker or Peter Griffin. They are caricaturish figures that come across as too grotesquely inept or boorish (or otherwise far too inappropriate) to be real. Yet, there are so many people in the real world who provide evidence that we need to justify this personality type.
And yes, most of them are men. This transcendent character is the ultimate everyman, the lowest of the lowest common denominators. If you don’t laugh at him because you relate to him then you at least laugh at him because everything he does is utterly stupid.
Enter Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), the buffoon at the heart of Anchorman. I must admit that when I first reviewed Anchorman back in 2004, I didn’t quite get it. Burgundy came across as a selfish simple jerk who blurted out idiotic and idiosyncratic idioms (i.e. “by the beard of Zeus!”) that quite frankly defied the logic of even nonsense humour. It was funny but not really laugh-out-loud funny. It was mostly the other type of funny.
But I tried again and I got it. My initial review was not fair. Ron Burgundy was hilarious. It wasn’t so much that the movie was a comedy of manners as it was a character study of a complete dolt, sweet though he may be, and his cadre of equally dimwitted newsies. There’s sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner), community beat reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), the weatherman who might possibly have the lowest IQ of anyone you’ve ever met.
Together, they make quite a news team. In the first movie, they faced the social upheaval of women’s liberation as Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) became the team’s first female co-anchor. The movie was essentially the male chauvinistic response to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, even complete with a dog named Baxter.
Now it’s the 1980s and Burgundy/Corningstone have become a dependable co-anchor news team in New York. When longtime newsman Mack Tannen (a reliably gruff Harrison Ford) retires, he promotes Corningstone and fires Burgundy, leaving our hero despondent and forlorn.
That is until he gets the offer of a lifetime: bring back the old news team and take the late shift on the new Global News Network, a 24-hour news channel. A dumb bet with the star lead anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden) prompts Burgundy to devise the winning formula for news as we know it: don’t tell the people what they need to hear … tell them what they want to hear. Enter sensational stories of car chases, cute cats, Champ saying “Whammy!” 15 times in a row, and demonstrations of how to smoke crack.
This isn’t the kind of news reporting that people go to journalism school for, unless there’s a hack journalism school. Integrity goes out the door in return for massive ratings. Consider this film an apt form of social commentary on the vapid nature of popular news these days. It’s pretty effective.
But this is still Anchorman so you can still expect the hallmarks of the first comedy: Baxter the King of Animals, jazz flute, Fantana’s bizarre macho cupboards, Brick’s non sequitur ramblings, impromptu songs, and newsroom/news team fight sequences. These all come in amongst the insipid period jokes, hair jokes, incredible cameo appearances, and various jokes about race, gender and sexuality that are all meant to be uproarious even though they first come across as untouchable in the realms of humour.
And so, yes, it took about seven minutes into the film before I laughed but laugh I did. In fact, I laughed out loud on numerous occasions. This movie might not be as quotable or impactful as the first, and it might not have a professional veneer on it either – especially because it was concocted out of reels of unscripted improvisation – but it is as effective nonetheless. For a good time, call Ron.