I will tell you this about 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues', the actual movie may be suspect… heck, it's barely even a movie, and recognizing that I wasn't all that crazy about the first 'Anchorman', but the marketing campaign is a marvel of modern amazement. Years from now, Harvard University Business School will a class called 'Marketing to the Masses: How to gently force people to watch a crap movie'. Now I'm not saying that 'Anchorman 2' is a crap movie, the marketing campaign has brainwashed enough people that I'd actually fear for my life if I said such a thing, I'm just saying this marketing campaign is better than the movie. It's better than almost any movie.
It's been close to ten years since we last saw Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his crew, so I have no idea how it actually ended, but I guess he got the girl since he and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are married now and have a seven year old boy (Judah Nelson). Life is great for Ron and Veronica on the weekend update desk, so good that when the retiring Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford) announces his retirement, Ron is certain he will be moving to national prime time. That doesn't happen. What does happen will break apart our happy couple, leave Ron jobless and send his life into a downward spiral.
One day though, the year being 1980, Ron gets a visit from a guy named Freddie (Dylan Baker) who is gathering talent for a new 24 hour News network. Crazy. Such a thing could never work, but Ron needs employment and as such Ron needs to get the gang back together. A couple of days later, Racist sports reporter Champ (David Koechner), investigative reporter Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) and Brick the retarded weatherman (Steve Carell) are in New York working the graveyard shift at a 24 hours News Network.
First thing Ron has to deal with is working for his sexy African American boss Linda (Megan Good). Next thing is dealing with the chief asshole and head anchor of this network in Jack Lime (James Mardsen). Now Ron has to figure out who wants to watch real news at two in the morning. Nobody, that's who. But who wants to watch baseless sensationalism at two o'clock? Or any o'clock? Salt of the Earth Americans, that's who. Ron Burgundy and his team have figured this out and they have changed the way that we Americans will accept our news forever.
Now Ron Burgundy is back on top of his game, but alas his ego will get the best of him and he will fall hard. But he will rise again and remember what's really important. What's really important? I don't remember. About the time Ron was nursing the shark, the ghost of Stonewall Jackson was sucking souls, and I saw Kirsten Dunst on top of a building dressed like an angel blowing a trumpet, I forgot about all of that other junk.
Okay, am I seriously expected to 'review' this movie? How does one even go about doing this? I guess we will just start with the basics, so if you were to ask me if 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' was funny, I'd have to say 'yes… it was funny'. I laughed quite a bit at this movie, more than I remember laughing at the first 'Anchorman', but I also cringed quite a bit. Maybe even more than I laughed. There was some seriously uncomfortable comedy in this movie. Like any movie where the jokes come fast and furious such as this, there's a percentage factor of those jokes that hit the funny mark and those that miss. Now please, don't anyone take offense to this, but I do think the dumber you are, the more you will laugh. I know… how can one not take offense to that. I said that before about movie a few years ago, and some dude sent me a nasty email claiming he had an IQ of 240 and he thought whatever movie I was talking about was super funny which makes me super stupid. I only mention that in case he's reading this and is feeling a need to tell me what his IQ is again. It's 240, I get it.
I will admit I was a little confused by the brawl at the end, which clearly came about because the people in this movie know a lot of really cool people and convinced them to be in this movie. Will Smith, Sasha Baron Cohen, Amy Poehler, Liam Neeson, Tina Fey, Vince Vaughn, Kanye West, Harrison Ford turning into a werewolf… was this funny… not really. But the audience where I was sitting cheered every time a famous person popped up, even if they didn't laugh, so I guess it had the desired effect.
Now if you were to ask me, they could've shaved that scene a little and added some more to the scene where Christina Applegate and Megan Good had a little verbal catfight. Now that was funny. In fact, even though they were only on screen together for like a total 90 seconds, Christina and Megan had more chemistry than anybody else in the movie. If that scene had ended with those two making out, though I wouldn't really want to see that, though it looked like that was the logical progression of that scene, I would be forced to proclaim 'Anchorman 2' the best movie ever. That didn't happen. And I didn't want to see that anyway.
Well great, I got through that. 'Anchorman 2' and its amazing marketing campaign and almost no real narrative was funny. And Offensive. I think it ended up being everything its creators wanted it to be.
Oh Mr. Armstead we will have to agree to disagree on this movie. This was a truly funny movie, and excellent sequel that totally lived up to (my) low expectations. Having been more a fan of Frank the Tank and Ricky Bobby than the first Anchorman, I didn't expect much from this. As sequels go, comedies have a slightly different issue than the Hobbits, Hunger Games, Super heroes etc… where sequels are plot driven and there are cliff hangers. Comedies don't really have cliff hangers, and for Anchorman there isn't even a will they/won't they plot twist. The first movie was complete, so what could they possibly return with? More laughs from Brick's stupidity? More juvenile and crude sex jokes? More insightful yet hilarious thoughts on the state of gender equality, race, and media in today's society? The movie delivered on all that and more. I have no doubt I am dumber than Mr. Armstead, and won't argue that point. However if being dumber is the pre requisite to enjoying the comedic stylings of Will Farrell, sign me up. If laughing and enjoying this movie was wrong, I don't want to be right.
In the world of stunted man child comedies, there is a formula. The formula goes something like this- our intrepid hero faces obstacles. Hero conquers obstacles with the help of loyal sidekicks (friends) and a new found sense of self. As time progresses, this new found sense of self moves from being endearing to annoying and alienating, leaving the hero alone but furthering him on the journey. The next act is for the hero to find back his better self, with the help of loyal sidekicks, who come back and help the hero to realize all you really need in life…is love. This formula is not always a winner, and must be handled with care but when it works- well just ask Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow. For full disclosure, I am a fan of the formula. I say praise the pedestrian- it doesn't get the respect it deserves. I don't care who you are- bats as chicken of the cave is funny. Power to mass appeal.
So Mr. Armstead did find the movie funny, but that alone isn't enough. He is left wondering, what is there to review in this movie? Some of the cringe factor took away from his enjoyment- to that I would ask for specific parts that made him cringe. Having watched my share of these comedies, this one rated pretty low on the cringe scale for me, nothing to make me gag or feel embarrassed for the actors. It was through the lens of comedy that this movie also chose to highlight the state of gender equality in today's society. The movie starts with (spoiler alert) Ron losing his job, while Veronica gets the promotion. Ron says it is him or the job. What is Veronica supposed to do? As her partner, she wants Ron to be happy for her. But like most, can you really feel happy for your partner's success? I mean deep down, don't all of us wish it was us getting the success instead of them? This envy is particularly heightened when it is the woman getting the success, as somehow the man is made to feel less of a man. When your sense of worth is wrapped up in how successful you are at work, failure can make you lose your sense of self as evidenced by Ron's downward spiral.
Beyond this nugget of wisdom, the movie also explores race. One cringe factor for me was the dinner scene with Linda's family, when Ron's lack of filter lets loose. What makes it cringe worthy is that he is saying and doing everything we in polite society hold back on. Ron is clearly in the wrong, but perhaps if we were a little more unfiltered, we can move to having more open and honest communication and dialogue about race. Don't get me wrong, I don't intend to advocate this movie be dissected for film thesis on race, simply that this movie was more nuanced than what I feel Mr. Armstead gave it credit for.
Ron Burgundy is America- we can be infuriatingly over confident. We can be complete and utter jerks and completely insensitive to others. But we can also change, and have the ability to learn from our mistakes and become better. Nowhere was this more evident than in the movie's view on media. The 24/7 news channel that Ron and crew go to work for GNN, a thinly veiled reference to CNN, and the owner Kench Allenby, who is a hybrid of Ted Turner (the actual creator of CNN) and Sir Richard Branson. Except Kench owns an Australian air line with questionable practices. Which is amusing, since movies can teach us so much- like the real Australian Air line Qantas never crashed. Learned that pearl of wisdom from Rain Man. Back to this movie though- the question at GNN was what would they be reporting on to occupy all that air time? Surely there isn't enough news to fill the day? Oh, yea of little faith. When there is no real news Ron gets the bright idea to just give the people what they want to hear. And it turns out, America likes, no… is obsessed, with car chases, celebrities, and speculation. Truth and facts are of little consequence to us. Sound familiar? Cue the white bronco, standing in the middle of natural disasters, and crowded screens giving us stocks, weather, and sports scores all at once. This movie doesn't give a scathing indictment of today's media, but it makes you think, what is wrong with us? Are we the victims of primal conditioning to see the high and mighty taken down (preferably on a high speed chase, but a murder trial will suffice) or are we the perpetrators, standing above the crowds like Roman Emperors demanding to gladiators that this primal need be fulfilled?
The battle for media supremacy comes to a head in an epic battle, which for me was the highlight of the first movie and the second battle doesn't disappoint. When MTV has its own news, you know our media land scape is crowded. I only wished PBS could have been represented, I guess their fundraising just couldn't cover weapons in the budget. That being said, if it is adolescent to enjoy this stunted man child formula, I don't want to grow up. It is funny that in all the marketing, Ron's catch phrase from the first movie, stay classy, was constantly used. It is poignant that isn't his sign off at GNN, as if to say, we've lost that class. Where did it go? We all need to go on a personal journey to bring it back, let's hope the journey doesn't involve sharks though. Who knew, Ron to have an American night and to stay classy. Here's to you, Ron Burgundy.