Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone (Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate) live in New York City and are married, have a six-year old son named Walter (Judah Nelson) and co-anchor a weekend network newscast.  Legendary anchorman Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford) is rumored to be close to retirement and calls the couple up to his office.  Tannen offers the anchor position to Veronica and fires Ron because he is constantly making on-air mistakes.  Ron is furious and orders Veronica to not take the job.  She refuses his demand and the two break up.  Ron winds up back in San Diego as a MC for Sea World but gets fired for being drunk and rude on the job.  Ron is approached by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker), a producer for the start-up cable channel Global News Network, or GNN and offers Ron an anchor position.  Ron scoffs at the idea of a 24-hour news channel but accepts the job on the condition he will work with his old news team.  Ron travels in a RV and tracks down Champ Kind (David Koechner) who was fired from his TV job and now owns a fried chicken restaurant.  Champ agrees to join Ron and they look for the others.  Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) has become a world famous photographer of cats.  Initially reluctant to give up the glamorous lifestyle of a cat photographer, Brian also joins the team; but he informs the others that Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) is dead, having been lost at sea a year earlier.  At a memorial service for Brick, he shows up as a speaker vowing to find out who killed Tamland.  Surprised to discover he’s alive, Brick joins the others and the team is back together.  Arriving at GNN headquarters, the team is being shown around by Shapp when they run into fellow anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden).  Lime enjoys poking fun at Ron and the others which angers Ron.  Ron bets Lime he and his team will have better ratings.  If he loses, he’ll never do news again.  If he wins, Lime must legally change his name to Lame.  Lime agrees and is confident he’ll win as he has a primetime slot while Ron and his crew are on a 2am.  While brainstorming stories for their first newscast, Ron laments that they have to tell they audience what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.  Shapp gets an idea and Ron’s entire newscast is about sensational stories not covered by traditional newscasts.  When the ratings come in, Ron’s 2am slot is the highest rated of all the first day.  This attracts the attention of GNN manager Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), the hard-charging African-American woman who initially hated Ron and his crew but now finds herself strangely attracted to the anchorman with salon quality hair.  Between his new job and new girlfriend, Ron has little time to be with his son Walter, angering Veronica as she struggles with the changing face of television news, due in part to her estranged husband.
 
“Anchorman 2:  The Legend Continues” is about what you’d expect from a follow up to such an insane movie.  The characters are all broad and impossibly tone-deaf in their stupidity.  The film has a very loose structure that probably matches how the movie was shot as there is usually a great deal of improvisation going on with the script merely there as a guide.  Sometimes the humor works to great effect.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  Fortunately, the hits win out over the misses.
 
There’s not much point talking about the story or the acting as neither is considered very important by the filmmakers.  The characters are either stiff and pompous or swaggering and unpredictable.  Eccentricity is the most obvious character trait and it’s on display in spades.  The two most bizarre characters have to be Brick Tamland and the woman with whom he falls in love, Chani, played by Kristen Wiig.  If either of these characters were in the real world they would have been committed to a facility somewhere long ago.  Brick apparently lives in a slightly different reality from the rest of us as he sees things in such a strange way.  He’s the king of the unrelated comment as frequently what he says has absolutely nothing to do with what’s being talked about.  He also can’t deal with technology such as green screen projection which requires him to do nothing but look into a television monitor.  Chani apparently can’t handle the stresses of everyday life as she is paralyzed by a ringing telephone, can’t tell if lipstick is makeup or candy and mails her boss’s phone messages to her instead of handing them to her.  Naturally, these two are perfect for each other and must be a couple.  Sadly, as a duo their weirdness never actually generates that much in laughs.  Brick on his own is sometimes very funny but often his weirdness just comes off as out of place and forced.  The rest of the cast is able to say and do stupid things that actually fit within the context of the story and those things are usually funny.  
 
In this case, usually means two-thirds to three-quarters of the time.  Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who wrote the screenplay, have apparently loaded the joke cannon and fired it at a wall to see what sticks.  Perhaps they should have stayed to watch a little longer as obviously some stuff fell off after a few seconds.  The old adage about beating a dead horse comes to mind as there are some jokes that are delivered, commented on and allowed to simmer for a few seconds.  Some of these deserved the extra play while others should have been said quickly and then ignored until the next joke.  This kind of humor overkill is a hallmark of Ferrell movies and it often leaves me feeling like a little of the former SNL funnyman goes a long way.  There’s less of a feeling like that here, but it did kind of creep up on me as the film went along.
 
Certain aspects of the comedy overkill work pretty well, such as the giant cable news team free-for-all near the end of the film.  The scene, stuffed with about 11 cameos, works as a kind of silliness that makes sense given what the film is.  It’s also a call-back to the first film but with more participants.  There are other examples that I’ll leave for you to find in the film and decide if they are bits that work or fail.  The bottom line is “Anchorman 2:  The Legend Continues” comes close to breaking that showbiz rule of leaving them wanting more.  There were times I wanted a little, or a lot, less.
 
“Anchorman 2:  The Legend Continues” is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.  There are numerous sexual references all done for a laugh.  There is a brief sex scene that has no nudity and is also largely done for laughs.  There are a couple of references to smoking crack with a brief scene showing it being smoked.  The violence is largely goofy with the exception of one scene where Ron’s boss beats him up and even that is comical to an extent.  Foul language is common but not overwhelming.
 
The hype for this film has been non-stop for some time now.  Ferrell, as Burgundy, has shown up on various talk shows, did a real local newscast in Bismarck, North Dakota, did commentary on a Canadian curling match and was the star of several commercials for the Dodge Durango.  All of this effort had the desired effect as the movie was often mentioned on various media outlets every time Ferrell showed up somewhere unusual.  It was a publicity campaign that was probably unnecessary as the movie has been clamored for ever since the first film left theatres.  When it was announced, the studio felt the need to release a teaser trailer before a script had been written or a frame of film had been shot.  It sometimes felt like the studio was worried the film wouldn’t have a big opening weekend at the box office.  Their efforts seem to have paid off as the film has nearly made its production expenditure back in the first five days of release.  Even though I enjoyed the film, at times it feels like it is a bit too long.  A comedy should never feel long no matter how many minutes it runs.  That might be a sign that there’s a little too much classiness in the movie.
 
“Anchorman 2:  The Legend Continues” gets four guitars out of five.
 
The end of the year means a ton of Academy Award contenders are flooding the screens at your local multiplex.  There’s also the usual junk mixed in for flavor.  Even with the holidays, I’ll still be diligently giving you my uninformed opinion.  Vote for the next movie I see and review.
 
47 Ronin—After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
 
American Hustle—A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting.
 
Grudge Match—Pittsburgh boxers Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Henry "Razor" Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) shared a fierce rivalry back in the 1980s. Each had scored a victory in two matches, but on the eve of their decisive third bout, Henry suddenly announced his retirement, effectively ending both boxers' careers. Thirty years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) makes Billy and Henry an offer they can't refuse: Return to the ring and settle the score once and for all.
 
Saving Mr. Banks—When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.
 
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty—Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero. Walter fancies a fellow employee named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and would love to date her, but he feels unworthy. However, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life's new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.
 
The Wolf of Wall Street—In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres or On Demand.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
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