Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Rated PG-13)
Ten years ago, my brother and I went to see Anchorman on opening night. The theater was packed and from the opening seconds of the film until it finally ended we laughed so hard and didn't stop. However, we were the only people in the theater that laughed. Despite making a modest profit and getting a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film went on to have a massive cult success. I still consider it my second favorite comedy of all time (The Big Lebowski is my #1). That cult status has carried the careers and literal legend of Ron Burgundy to this sequel that was both unneeded yet so anticipated by people like me.
The quality of the film aside for a second, my favorite thing about this was that the cast returned. Take Will Ferrel out of it; both Steve Carrel and Paul Rudd have gone on to be two of the top ten comedy A-listers in Hollywood since the first one. They could have thumbed their nose at this or worse, held the film for ransom by demanding huge paydays. They didn't. They not only agreed to do the film but took the same secondary characters they always played and made them as limited, if not more limited, than they did before. Now that is staying classy!
Of course, the big question is this; is Anchorman 2 as funny as Anchorman? I think the answer is no. The movie does an amazing job of out-weirding the first one by a massive margin but in that noble challenge loses sight of out-witting the first one. There are sequences in this that are honestly some of the weirdest you've ever seen in a mainstream film. But never does it go off the rails, it just slows down. There's a whole storyline that takes the character out of the newsroom and into seclusion that makes the movie plodding and frustrating but pays it all off in a scene that involves a song that made me laugh so hard I had tears coming out of my face.
One thing I love about the writing of Ferrel and director Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Other Guys) is that when you strip away all the overt goofiness there is a very serious message that they're trying to get across. In Anchorman 2 it's how perverted news has become because of the invention of the 24-hour news channels and a quest for ratings has overtaken a quest for what's important. McKay and Ferrel, who are passionate liberals, could have landed massive uppercuts on Fox News but don't and instead aim their satircal sights on the whole industry. Again, that's staying classy.
The movie doesn't have as many quotable lines but still has an arsenal of them. It also features twice the cameos that the original had which becomes so gratuitous that it's hilarious. I heard that there is a 4-hour-long version that exists and might be released one day that I would love to see since their trademark improv-style abounds but the two hours it ended up being in theaters is plenty for most people. In the ten years that people have been able to absorb and digest Anchorman it has made the majority of a theater laugh as opposed to when my brother and I saw it but I still suspect that this film is gonna be too weird for some. But those of you that can't get enough of Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team, like me, will love it going down...down into your bellies.