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'Anchorman 2' is idiotic, outrageous, and pretty darn funny

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I’ll give you five seconds to name another movie in recent memory that’s had a bigger promotional campaign than Anchorman 2. Ready. Set. Go!

 

Ok. You may have one or two at the most, but I honestly can’t think of any. And as a result, I went into the movie theater thinking that, for all the hoopla and appearances of Will Ferrell (as his alter ego Ron Burgundy) on my television set over the last four months or so that this long-anticipated follow-up to the 2004 blockbuster better be damn good.

 

Well, the verdict is in…..and I can’t tell you….just yet.

 

About 99% of us (which even includes BOTH of my parents;  the other 1% being my sister) are well-aware of the exploits of Burgundy and his San Diego news team, so no real backstory is needed here. I’m going to just get right to it.Photo: nydailynews.com

 

The story begins in the early 1980’s in New York City. Burgundy and his now-wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are living the highlife; co-anchoring WBC News in Manhattan while raising their young son.

 

However, there’s trouble on the horizon. When Veronica is promoted and Burgundy is fired while being called “the worst anchor in the world” (by a familiar face we all know), Burgundy’s jealous nature once again rears its ugly head. Despite his stern objections, Veronica takes the job, and Ron moves out.

 

After another breakdown (not dissimilar to the one he suffered in the last movie) which takes him back to San Diego hosting at SeaWorld, Burgundy is recruited by a news director to anchor for GNN- a 24-hour all-news channel based in New York that is prepared to launch immediately.

 

While originally laughing at the concept, Burgundy then has a change of heart and sets out to recruit the old KVWN channel 4 news team. He first goes to visit Champ Kind (David Koechner), who’s still a racist and maintains his unusual “affection” for Ron, and Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), who’s now photographing cats in Los Angeles. When Fantana informs Ron and Champ that Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) has died at sea, the three attend his funeral- where they promptly find Brick delivering his own eulogy. After convincing him he’s alive (I can’t believe I’m actually typing this), the four (along with Burgundy’s dog, Baxter) set out for "The Big Apple" in search of recapturing their past glory. Furthermore, it's a blatant attempt by Burgundy to get back at Veronica- who is now estranged from Burgundy and is dating a psychologist (Greg Kinnear).

 

Upon arrival, the news team is greeted rather harshly by Jack Lime (James Marsden), an up and coming hotshot news anchor with even better hair than Burgundy’s. With expectations set rather low for Burgundy’s team, they get together with their news director and decide an alternative approach to basic news, which goes over so badly with Burgundy’s boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) that she fires the entire team. When the ratings from the initial broadcast blow Lime’s rating out of the water, Jackson then rehires the team and Burgundy begins his ascension to the top of the news ranks again (which impresses Jackson in more ways than one).

 

However, just as we’ve seen before with Burgundy, he can fall as easily as he rises. A brush with mortality along with his inflated ego distances himself from the team and forces him to reevaluate the choices he makes in his life. Will the news team rise again? Will Ron reunite with Veronica? Will Ron play the flute again? Will Fantana unleash ‘Sex Panther’? You’ll just have to wait and see.

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SPOILER ALERT:

 

While the premise of the original Anchorman seemed (for the most part) focused, Anchorman 2’s storyline from director/writer Adam McKay and Ferrell wanders aimlessly and the schtick gets a little tiring with around 20 minutes left in the movie (a Kayne West cameo is unfunny and surely doesn’t help matters). However, one area where the sequel fares better than the original is in the message it sends. The violent, epic battle amongst the plethora of news teams during the film’s climax is a poignant metaphor about how oversaturated and sensationalistic news has and would become (and this was circa 1980). As dim-witted and oblivious as Burgundy and his crew can be, even THEY pick up on this.

 

As for the characters, Ferrell clearly (no pun intended) anchors this movie and does it well, but his character of Burgundy is only slightly less pompous than he was in the film’s predecessor and he partakes in some actions that seem quite out of character for even him (ie: crack smoking, and an attempted suicide attempt that comes off quite uncomfortable- even though it’s played for laughs). Moreover, the actions of Carell’s Brick tend to miss the mark and were always most effective when served in small doses. Applegate’s Corningstone gets about half the screen time she received in the original, as does Baxter (though his role in the film is extremely vital to protagonist Burgundy). If this is to be the last film in the Anchorman franchise, a better ending would have been more appropriate for the film’s characters, as there’s no real finality or indication where anybody associated with the news team is headed as the film draws to a close.


END OF SPOILERS

Despite some of these drawbacks that you would most likely take notice of in retrospect, all is forgiven in the midst of the overall collective, mindless, childish humor that we’ve come to know and love from Burgundy and his news team.

If you’re expecting something better than the original Anchorman, you’ll probably be a little disappointed. And although Burgundy and his news team don’t always use the most conventional methods in getting the job done and the one-liners aren’t as nearly as memorable as the first film, you certainly won’t appreciate them any less. Overall, Anchorman 2, much like Burgundy and his news team, delivers when it matters most.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: nydailynews.com