ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
Review by Gordon Justesen
Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Dylan
Baker, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig
Director: Adam McKay
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: April 1, 2014
“Brian, any idea what you might do next?”
“Gonna head back to L.A. I got a good group of buddies out there; O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector, Robert Blake.”
“Sounds like a fun crew.”
“We go out cruising chicks. We call ourselves The Ladykillers.”
2004‘s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was a stroke of bizarre comic genius. It was full of random jokes, and was an insane comedy that played by its own outlandish rules. It was easily my favorite Will Ferrell vehicle to date, but that spot has been taken over by its even more outlandish sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
It took a full decade for Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay to find an appropriate continuation of the saga of the biggest buffoon to ever grace the world of network news. They had toyed with several ideas, mainly that of a full blown musical. But in the end, Ferrell and McKay settled on perhaps the best possible route for the further adventures of San Diego’s Channel 4 news team; by going from the 70s to the early 80s.
The movie opens with Burgundy (Ferrell) and wife/co-anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) separating after he is fired and she is promoted to top network news anchor at a top flight New York station. Down on his luck, and working at Sea World of all places, Burgundy is given a second opportunity when producer Feddie Shap (Dylan Baker) approaches him for a job at the first established 24 hour news network, called GNN. Burgundy instantly agrees, and proceeds to track down his old news team.
In tracking his co-horts down, he comes to find that sports caster Champ Kind (David Koechner) now runs a chicken fast food franchise whose secret ingredient happens to be, eh, bats! Field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is now a well established kitten photographer. And as for weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), well...apparently, he’s dead...that is until he is seen giving his own eulogy at his funeral...so the news team is officially back!
New York, as well as the new 24 hour news cycle, proves to be an even bigger playground for Burgundy. In a scene that is simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable, Burgundy is greeted by his new boss, a black female named Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). Given how much of an ignorant moronic imbecile Burgundy is, you can already guess why the scene is both funny and uncomfortable.
He also sparks an intense rivalry with the network’s headlining anchor, Jack Lime (James Marsden). Driven by ego, Burgundy makes a bet that he can beat Lime’s numbers, even though Lime is prime time and Burgundy is on the 2am graveyard shift). If Ron loses, he agrees to leave New York and never read the news again, but if he wins Jack must legally change his name to Jack Lame.
But as fate would have it, Burgundy becomes the top network sensation at GNN instantaneously, and by simply reporting on what everyone WANTS to hear as opposed to what they NEED to hear. Before long, Ron and his news team are hotter than they’ve ever been, even during their San Diego days. But that doesn’t stop them from doing the unthinkable on the air every now and then, like demonstrating how to properly smoke crack (a new craze at the time).
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a single comedy that on the one hand was nothing but an abundance of sheer of the wall silliness, while on the other was actually trying to form a journey of a character arc. Ron Burgundy is perhaps the last character we’d expect to see endure such a journey, but the movie definitely gives him one. As a result, this sequel is a much longer movie than the first one and while this notion may turn some off, I couldn’t get enough.
There’s even a portion of the movie where our hero goes blind. And just when you expect a heart tugging, inspirational tale of the human spirit involving one man’s struggle to adjust to the dark world of the blind, Burgundy manages to be even more of an ignorant buffon, making him the most least inspiring character of this sort ever. It’s a grand example of the bizarre comedic environment that Ferrell and McKay have established in these movies, only they are really firing on all cylinders here.
But the movie saves the biggest piece of hilarious insanity for its climax, which is a much bigger network news battle than we got in the first movie. And with this scene alone, Anchorman 2 breaks the record for the most surprise cameos. Without given any of the big names away, I’ll just mention that Ron and his team battle to the death against the BBC, MTV, Canadian News, ESPN and The History Channel (aided by the ghost of Stonewall Jackson).
As it turns out, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a rarity in that is actually one of very few sequels that are better than its predecessor, and I never thought the first movie was capable of being surpassed! The insanity and randomness are in even huger supply this time around, and Ferrell soars once again in what is easily his funniest character to date. Not only is it a great sequel, but it’s one of the all around funniest films to come around in a long time!
This Blu-ray presentation from Paramount is absolutely spot on from the word go! The picture quality is terrifically lively from beginning to end, with knockout colors and rich detail in every frame. It’s actually extremely well shot for a comedy, and the outstanding presentation enhances that even further!
The DTS HD mix is quite an
astounding knockout which, again, is somewhat unexpected for a comedy. But
carries the bonus of an awesome soundtrack (what more can be said about a movie
that starts off with Christopher Cross’
“Ride Like the Wind”?) as well as many many moments of physical comedy that pay off extremely well. The climatic battle is indeed a presentation showstopper. Dialogue delivery is excellently handled throughout the presentation.
As far as extras go, this release from Paramount is one of the best releases not just for this year, but in quite some time. It’s a three disc package that actually includes THREE versions of the movie: a Theatrical version, an Unrated version, and a Super Sized R Rated Cut. Each version is worth your time as they include different jokes spread throughout (the R rated version includes a bellyful of new jokes, and even a few musical numbers as well).
On Disc One, which includes the Theatrical and Unrated versions, we get a great commentary featuring director Adam McKay, producer Judd Apatow and stars Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner (featured on the Unrated cut only), as well as a behind the scenes featurette titled “The Newsroom”, a two part Gag Reel, a Line-o-Rama (alternate takes montage), Welcome to the Dolphin Show (Ferrell improvising a scene at Sea World), Catfight (more alternate takes), a News-O-Rama (alternate bits involving news reports in the movie), Kench-O-Rama (alternate bits involving the head of the network, a Rupert Murdoch-type) and an extended Table Read session.
Disc Two, which includes the Super Sized R Rated Cut, includes well over 90 minutes of Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes, four behind the scenes featurettes (adding up to about 45 minutes), Previsualizations, and Audition footage, for both this movie and the previous one. There’s also an intriguing bit with Jack Black performing a song explaining why he’s not back in the sequel.
Disc Three is a DVD edition of the Theatrical Version.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is pretty much like the first one, only on steroids! It may not be for all tastes, but if you were a fan of the first one, and you haven’t already seen this insane follow up, you owe it to yourself to discover what is now a benchmark for comedy sequels. The Blu-ray release from Paramount is also a must have release! Stay classy!