Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Review

the-best-part-of-anchorman-2-features-a-star-studded-epic-news-team-brawl

Scott Meslow recently wrote an article on theweek.com with the self-explanatory title How nonstop marketing killed my buzz for Anchorman 2, outlining the negative effect of Paramount’s unavoidably aggressive promotional campaign for the second instalment of Ron Burgundy epic saga. While it’s common place for films to have a marketing budgets bigger than its production budget nothing has quite compared to Anchorman 2’s efforts, Paramount essentially created the advertising equivalent to Blitzkrieg. TV adverts, film piracy messages, real news reports, fake news reports, a fictional autobiography, Universities got Ron Burgundy to give speeches and there was even Burgundy minions invading the local pub to present news spots, Will Ferrell’s moustached alter ego has been omnipresent and inescapable for the last couple of months. One wonders whether Will Ferrell has convinced himself that he’s a 70s anchorman hailing from San Diego, or San Diago as he would correct me.

Anchorman overkill had hit before the film had even been released, Meslow hitting the nail on the head, “the massive glut of ancillary products and tie-ins has had an unexpected effect on me: I have absolutely no interest in seeing Anchorman 2 anymore”. Beyond making the public sick to death of Ron Burgundy’s immaculate hair, the grossly extravagant marketing campaign appeared to be compensating for something; surely if the impending sequel was more of Ferrell and co’s comic genius then the product would self itself. The hard sell suspiciously pointed to another lacklustre blockbuster release that commercially flourishes due its continued flogging, as they say, if you throw enough shit, some will stick.

The original Anchorman was a high point in a flurry of brilliant oddball comedies starring either or Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson/Will Ferrell/Vince Vaughn, managing to be ludicrously stupid but endlessly quotable. Anchorman 2 plays if very safe, more or less replicating its predecessor which in one sense means more of the same bankable laughs, but also disappointingly predictable. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has more bang for its buck, more special effects and star power but this does little but reaffirm that the Channel 4 news team’s tale has lost its cult, underdog status.

Once again we find Ron at the peak of his news reading powers, successfully leading national news with his partner, and co presenter, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Just as in Anchorman, a common recurring theme, Ron’s life takes a turn for the worst when his wife his promoted over him, forcing him to abandon his family. After being sacked by Seaworld for sexually harassingly the Starfish, Ron is given a lifeline by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) who offers the anchor ace the chance for a comeback on the revolutionary 24 hour news channel in New York. Just as in Anchorman, Ron most assemble is faithful news team of lead Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd),Champ Kind (David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) for the new job.

Just as Ron and gang think they’re the big ticket in news again they receive the unwelcome news that they’ve been handed the 2am graveyard shift, ousted for primetime by the handsome devil Jack Lime (James Marsden). Ron’s demotion forces him to rethink the very fabric of broadcast journalism with amusing consequences for everyone concerned.

Anchorman-2-3

Anchorman 2 exists as a paradoxical film, both succeeding and failing by sticking to its roots. As with any comedy, Anchorman 2 will be judged by laughs which there are plenty of, mostly stemming from the wonderfully mentally deficient Brick Tamland. Carrell’s performance takes the plaudits for laughs, his more prominent role this time round paying dividends. In contrast to the Hangover which milked unfunny idiot Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to death, Anchorman succeeds in giving Brick a bigger, but not overwhelming, part via a love interest on top of his classic completely random one liners that never cease to garner a snigger.

Dissimilar to Brick’s growing hilarity is Ron’s diminishing amusement this time round. The irrepressible blurts of “Sweet Lincoln’s mullet!” and “Knights of Columbus!” felt spontaneous in Anchorman but this time round they fall flat, forced rather than naturally spoken as if Ferrell has just improvised them. Much of Ron’s humour this time round feels exhausted, it’s surprising to think there’s only been one film in the series before, many of the jokes and lines feel they’ve been done countless times before. With that said a lot of the gags still hit the mark, with such a talented comic cast, led by the near faultless Ferrell, it would be hard work to make an unfunny picture. Some moments rival anything in the original outing, a later section featuring Ron’s new residence in a lighthouse is undoubtedly comic genius, but other times, namely the first 20 minutes, are weak, cringe worthy affairs.

anchorman-2

While most of the film’s budget has been spent on making the marketing budget bigger than a majority of European economies, there has been some investment in the actual production…well a bit. One of the bolder bits of filmmaking is a clever use of slow motion with hilarious consequences, but apart from that it seems that most of the extra dosh has been thrown at bringing some star names in. Without naming any to spoil the fun, these actors don’t add a whole lot beyond brief cameos filling in the roles of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan in the first instalment. Two completely pointless appearances come from rappers Drake and Kanye West who succeed in being both crap and unfunny, making you wonder what the point in them being roped in the first place was. It’s this cramming of any celebrity going into the film that sees some of that original spark and soul sucked out of Anchorman, like when you liked a band before they got big and shit Z-list celebrities start championing them.

Before seeing Anchorman 2 I, and many others I expect, feared the worst for Ron Burgundy’s legacy. Regardless of omens Anchorman 2 succeeds in creating homage to its humble beginnings, there’s little new, but fans of the original will revel in the same stupid, over the top humour anchored by, but not exclusive to, Anchorman Will Ferrell. The recurring cast all pick up their respective roles just where they left off from, for better or for worse. The novelty Anchorman had back 2004 may be gone, but Ron Burgundy and co still provide enough laughs to stop the film from falling into a bleak, money spinning exploitation.

6/10- Like the first Anchorman but without the novelty

Enhanced by Zemanta