Monday, 23 December 2013

Review: Anchorman 2 - The Legend Continues

World of Blackout Film Review

Anchorman 2 Poster

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Cert: 15 / 119 mins / Dir. Adam McKay

No-one can accurately predict which movies will become breakout hits. On the surface, there's not a lot to differentiate 2004's Anchorman from its classmates; just the right cast, the right script*1 and the right time. The film's success promoted Will Ferrell and Steve Carell to the A-List, and provided a plethora of quotable lines for the office, the pub, and the marketing department for Anchorman 2*2. But how could Dreamworks capitalise on this success? Well, in lieu of a sequel, re-issues of the Anchorman DVD featured a 'bonus movie', Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, created from unused subplots and alternate takes from the film. And that's sort of what Anchorman 2 feels like; a collection of disparate sketches and threads, with the cracks papered over by getting Will Ferrell to ad-lib exclamations (of the 'by Odin's beard!' variety).

Now don't let that dour, judgemental opening fool you: I liked Anchorman 2. There are sketches which work really well (the cruise-control camper van), skteches which fall a little flat (most of the scenes with James Marsden), ones which are excruciating for the right and the wrong reasons (the family dinner*3), and some which just retread past glories (jazz-flute and the battle finale). The problem (for me) is that most of these threads just don't connect with each other; and considering that the film's about a news team and many of Anchorman's finest moments were the on-air antics of that collective, we spend precious little time in the studio with the guys in the sequel (even though the film is centered around them moving to a new station). It may have been written by only two people (Ferrell and director, McKay), but it feels like it's been edited by someone who's never met either of them. Or read the script. That said, even I was impressed by the roll-call of celebrity cameos for the showdown in the park; not impressed that the film could get the names, more that they were all clearly so keen to have it on their CV's (Ford was a pleasant surprise and Cohen and Neeson I'd expect, but not Cotillard).

Apart from that, Anchorman 2 is what you'd imagine, really. Perhaps a little too much. If you're in the market for undemanding laughs then Adam McKay's got something he'd like to sell you, but don't expect to fall in love with Ron Burgundy all over again.

Maybe I'm just expecting too much? Or maybe when the producers of a film wait eight years to make a largely unnecessary follow-up, then there's an expectation that it'll be (at least) the equal of its predecessor? Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is frequently very funny, but occasionally lazy and feels sloppily assembled. And with the pedigree behind it, you know it's capable of better.

I enjoyed it, and I think most audiences will, too. I, er... just can't think of many good things to say about it…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Well, the trailer is what the film wants to be. You'll understand if you've seen both.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
More than half of the time, but less than all.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Making you laugh? Yeah. Continuing the legend of Ron Burgundy? Not really.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
You won't lose anything by watching it on DVD.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
I will, but not right away.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't, and I genuinely thought we were going to get one in the park-showdown.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
…am I asking too much of an Apatow-stable comedy?

*1 Or more accurately, performances, as many of the best lines were ad-libbed. As in actually ad-libbed. Not just having Melissa McCarthy pulling faces and shouting 'fuck' at someone not speaking in the scene. #miaow
*2 Because seriously, some of the tie-in crossover promotions leading up to this film have been just embarrassing. Like they've been written by someone who's watched Anchorman every day for the last eight years and thinks that scripting out previously-used ad-libs isn't going to completely destroy not only the timing, but also the dignity of Ferrell, repeating his 'famous' material like some sort of moustachioed Peter Kay. And yes, I realise I'm being a purist over a Will Ferrell movie.
*3 I also wasn't too keen on how crassly the whole 'Ron's blind' segment was handled either, given that there was no real reason for it being there. Then again, I'm a wooly-liberal at heart, so what do you expect.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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