Thursday, December 19, 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

ANCHORMAN 2: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, directed by Adam McKay (119 min.)

Absurdity hits a fever pitch in the much anticipated, much hyped sequel to Anchorman.  Of course, what else would anyone expect in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues?  The randomness is higher, the cameos more prevalent, the ridiculousness at a level which seems almost impossible to outdo anywhere in the foreseeable future.  The entire news team is back and about half of Hollywood appears in cameos along the way, making for an entertaining and often hilarious spectacle of the strange and illogical.  It may be a little too long, some of the subplots don't hit their mark, but much like any other Adam McKay/Will Ferrell comedy, this one will grow on you and make for multiple repeated viewings. 

Ron Burgundy is back on top, this time in Manhattan as co-anchor with his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate, no more than a plot device this time around) on the afternoon news.  But right away things go south for the mustachioed macho man; Veronica is handed the evening news broadcast and Burgundy is immediately fired because, well, he is a terrible news anchor.  This is obviously too much for Ron to handle so he leaves Veronica and their young son to return to San Diego.  This is where Ferrell does a riff on his drunken washed up semi celebrity from Blades of Glory, as Ron turns up as a host at Sea World.  Enter Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker), a news agent who wants to give Ron and his news team a crack at joining this newfangled 24-hour news station.  Cue the assembling of the team.

Ron gathers up Champ Kind (David Koechner), his drunken racist sportscaster who is thankfully used minimally again, Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, and the manchild Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), who gets a little too much screen time to handle.  The quartet head back to Manhattan and rivalries, women, and mishaps take up the bulk of the picture.  There are any number of asides in this midsection, including a romance for Brick with a fellow numskull played by Kristin Wiig.  The scenes with Wiig and Carell have an amazing ability to stop any momentum the film had gained.  Meanwhile, Burgundy must square off against his rival, the devastatingly handsome Jack Lime (James Marsden), and he must handle the hot and heavy interest from Linda Jackson, the station director played by Meagan Good.  The joke here is that Jackson is an African-American, but thankfully the jokes dissipate quickly.

At the core of Anchorman 2 is a sharp little satire regarding the current state of American news.  Nobody wants to hear any real news, they want car chases and animals and fluff.  This is how Burgundy and his team break through and become the toasts of the station.  But then, the film takes its most outlandish turn that I don't want to spoil.  The detour is spectacularly absurd and consistently funny, and that is all I will say.  And then, as the central story comes back into focus as the film ramps up in its third act.  Just like the original, there is a news station epic battle, only this time a joke is made of the oversaturated news and journalism on television these days.  And the cameos flood the screen, which is really the entire purpose of this big showdown.

There is no real purpose in reviewing an insane comedy like Anchorman 2.  Everyone who wants to see it will see it, and it doesn't really matter if the film is good or not.  It is funny, sometimes wildly funny, other times amusing.  Some things don't work, like the Carell/Wiig dynamic.  But there is one thing that is certain: the left turns in the story are the most random bits of storytelling I have ever seen.  It's hard to imagine getting further out into left field without completely leaving the ballpark, but McKay and company manage to pull these absurdities off.  If only they would have trimmed things back about 20 minutes, and trimmed the comedic fat, Anchorman 2 would have been an instant classic.  That being said, talk to me after my second, third, or fourth viewing.