Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Legend and laughs continue with 'Anchorman 2'

This movie review was originally posted at KPC Media Group's website. You can read the review here. Reprinted with permission.

When I told my husband I was planning to review 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' this week, he gave me a wary look and told me, "You don't need to review that!"

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because, from the previews, it looks like all you'll need to say is, 'If you liked the first 'Anchorman,' you'll like this movie," he replied.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, he was pretty much right. "Anchorman 2" does not quite live up to the screamingly hilarious, intensely quoteable "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," but it still delivers enough laughs to make it well worth the time and money.

"Anchorman 2" picks up in 1980, several years after the original "Anchorman." Newsman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his now-wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), are an anchor team in New York City. But after Veronica is promoted to nightly news anchor and Ron is fired, Ron leaves for a disasterous new life alone in San Diego.

Lucky for Ron, though, he is soon tapped to work at a new news venture - GNN, the first 24-hour news network. He gets his news team - Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell) - out of retirement and they jet off to New York to work under tough producer Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). Unfortunately, they have to contend with the likes of stuck-up newsman Jack Lime (James Marsden), and Ron has the added complication of Veronica's new lover, Gary (Greg Kinnear).

"Anchorman 2" has a couple of things going for it. One is the incredible chemistry and comedic timing of the actors. Many of the scenes with Ferrell, Koechner, Rudd and Carrell all together are magic. Their characters are all totally weird and sometimes just too much when they have scenes apart from each other, but when they mesh, that's when the belly-laughs start. Applegate, unfortunately, gets relagated to the background for most of "Anchorman 2," but when she is on screen, she's solid. However, Kristen Wiig does a great job with a super strange character, a GNN secretary named Chani. In another actress' hands, Chani might not have worked, but Wiig is talented and unself-concious enough to make the character a welcome addition.

Ferrell is also, once again, a wonderful star for the center of this crazy circus they call "Anchorman." Ron Burgundy is clearly a character that Ferrell loves to play, and it shows throughout the movie. He has fleshed out the character so completely, and he inhabits him so fully, that it's actually kind of amazing to watch. Ferrell's comedic characters can sometimes cross the line into being obnoxious, but with Burgundy, Ferrell walks that line between hilarious and annoying perfectly.

The other thing that makes "Anchorman 2" great is the way it critiques 24-hour cable news. There is a lot about those channels to mock, and "Anchorman 2" hits them just right. When Ron comes up with the brilliant (and ratings-friendly) idea to give people what they want to watch - funny videos of animals, car chases and good old-fashioned patriotism - it's funny because it's so true-to-life. But it goes deeper than that. The commentary gets biting at times, like when an investigative story gets cut because it messes with the "synergy" of the parent company. I think writers Ferrell and Adam McKay have been paying attention!

But despite some solid satire, "Anchorman 2" is really just another super-silly, ridiculously goofy comedy that exists to make a whole lot of jokes, most of which are funny. "Anchorman 2" does have some low spots, but the hilarious highs more than make up for slow moments. Ferrell and McKay employed the "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" method of comedy, full of rapid-fire jokes that are sometimes hit-and-miss, but a smattering of hysterical scenes throughout the movie and an enjoyably ridiculous last half-hour featuring no less than a dozen celebrity cameos make it a lot of fun to watch.

"Anchorman 2" is exactly what I'm looking for in an "Anchorman" sequel - a couple of hours of laughing really hard at stupid jokes. The fact that it made a bit of a satirical point about something that actually needs to be mocked now and then - 24-hour cable TV news - is just a little added bonus to an already enjoyable couple of hours.

Jenny's Take: See it before it leaves theaters.
(Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comedic violence. Runs 120 minutes.)

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