Monday, December 23, 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Review

What can really be said about Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy that hasn't been said before? Since it's release in 2004, it's become one of the most highly regarded comedies of the past decade, and in contention with Mean Girls for the most quotable movie of 2004. Practically everyone knows about Anchorman, even if they haven't seen it. So I was a bit apprehensive when a sequel was announced almost a decade since the original movie was released. Something about it just struck me the wrong way, and I'm still wondering if it was made to either please the fans, or because some people needed a paycheck. And yes, it does try to top the original, which is a nigh impossible task, but you can't really blame them for trying now can you?

Our story follows an anchorman named Ron Burgundy who, after the events of the first film, is now married to his co anchor Veronica Corningstone. They movie to New York, she gets promoted to being an anchor on a national news network, while Ron gets fired. So Ron decides to assemble his Channel 4 News Team and seek to reclaim his lost fame, this time through a 24 hours news network.

While I wish the plot was that simple, unfortunately it's not, and that's the biggest problem with this movie. Every 20 minutes or so the movie changes gears completely and focuses on a new plot thread with little association to the plot before hand. At first it's about Ron wanting to be famous again, but then goes to him reconnecting with his son, him dating his boss (Veronica and him get a divorce), then Ron being too arrogant, getting an illness, getting his morals back, and a few more threads that just seem like padding. The film's trying to spin too many plates when making it's story interesting, or just to put Ron in different scenarios for more jokes, but that's about it. The first movie had some tangential plot threads, but this is ridiculous. If it was just focused on a single plot, then it would have been better off.

Context is for the weak
Thankfully, I'm happy to say the rest of the movie is good. Not great mind you, but good. What's really apparent about Anchorman 2 is how self aware it is in comparison to the original. The original Anchorman was hilarious because yes it didn't take itself seriously, but it had no hype to build off of. It was just a funny movie for the sake of being a funny movie. The sequel, and like most sequels to comedies, is aware of how popular the original was and instead reuses jokes from the first movie, only turning them up to the nth degree. Hell, there is a sequence in the movie dedicated to Ron feeding a baby shark with a baby bottle. It's aware of how stupid it is, but I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Yes it is funny, but there's a strong sense in my head that I'm laughing BECAUSE it's Anchorman 2 and not because it's a funny movie. It still has funny moments, but I feel that most of the jokes lean too heavily on the first movie. Hell, the climax is redoing one of the most famous scenes from the first movie, but turning up the insanity to the max by throwing in tactical airstrikes, Kanye West, and the ghost of Stonewall Jackson stealing souls from people. I laughed my ass off at it, but it feels like the writers said "we'll put this scene in here because it was in the first movie, but to make it just as funny we'll make it more over the top". In other words, in order to compensate for lack of originality, they opted to turn up the insanity.

...THAT BEING SAID, by god this is a funny movie! I can have analytical discussions on why it's funny, but that doesn't change the fact that a legitimate plot point involves Stonewall Jackson stealing people's souls! I'm sorry, but most criticisms I have for this movie fall at the wayside when it's just so damned funny. Granted, it's not as funny as the original, but I didn't go into this movie expecting it to. I went in thinking that I could see more Ron Burgundy, and man did I see a lot of Ron Burgundy. Everything that Ron says is usually a gold mine and had my laughing my ass off, and that goes for most of the supporting cast. Everyone was having a good time, and even the slightest thing in the background was enough to make me crack up.

He ain't in Milwaukee anymore 
I could go on about how a majority of the jokes work, and even the ones that don't are still funny because of how stupid they are, like Ron meeting his boss's family and trying to fit in. Because they're black, and Ron Burgundy is, well, Ron Burgundy, you can see exactly how it turns out. I still can't get over all of the over the top moments in this movie that just made me laugh because of how over the top they were, but also because of how funny they legitimately were. I wouldn't think that someone brushing their teeth with a lobster would be funny, but there you go. 

Special mention also goes to a subplot about Brick falling in love with a secretary named Chani, played by Kristen Wiig, who both have the shared IQ of a can of beans. Insulting beans aside, they both surprisingly have great chemistry together and have some of the best moments in the film, despite them really only having two or three scenes dedicated to them. Still, when they're there, they're awesome. It's actually really cute in a sense that Brick, the biggest idiot on the face of the planet, is able to get a girlfriend and make it work out, and that she's also 22 months pregnant. Or at least she says she is, so take it with a grain of salt or two. 

Comedies by their nature are very hard to review, because what one person finds funny another person may not. It's true in this case, since you're either going to love or hate this film. If you liked the first one, then you'll enjoy this one. If you've never seen the first film, what the hell is wrong with you? You'll still like this movie, but seriously, go see it. And if you hated the original, this won't change your mind to liking the series. Still, I think that this was a solid comedy that was right up my alley. 

This movie can actually be summed up in one joke told early on. The news team are driving to New York City in a motor home with a deep fryer, a bag of bowling balls, and a case of angry scorpions, and no one is driving the motor home. Expectingly, they crash and hilarity ensues. That's Anchorman 2 in a nutshell. You know the set up and what the jokes are going to be, plus there's a sneaking suspicion that you've seen it before, but you don't care because the punchline is still funny. I'm not clamoring for an Anchorman 3: The Legend Never Dies, but it was still an enjoyable time. I give Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 4 Channel 4 News Team members out of 5. 

And now, a moment of silence for Doby....

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