Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anchorman 2

As I mentioned in my feature for this film, the original Anchorman was one of the most influential and quotable comedies of the last decade. It cemented Will Ferrell as a comedy king and greatly increased the exposure of supporting stars like Steve Carell. It's a double-edged sword coming back to such a beloved film. The popularity of the project will surely make the sequel profitable, but expectations might be difficult to live up to as well. With that in mind, I tried to temper my expectations going into this film and merely hoped for an entertaining diversion.

Ron Burgundy seems to have it all. He and his wife Veronica are a high-profile news anchor team, poised to fill an impending vacancy in the prime-time slot. When it becomes clear that the studio is only interested in Veronica, however, Ron goes into a downward spiral which culminates in his leaving his family. Constantly inebriated and suffering an existential crisis, Ron hits rock-bottom in the locker room of San Diego's Sea World where he's relegated to introducing the dolphin show. Thankfully, someone offers Ron a chance at redemption with a spot at the Global News Network, which introduces the world to the first ever 24-hour news service. With no other options and a hefty advance payment, Ron must reunite his news team to restore his reputation and make history yet again as the legend continues.

Again, this plot summary only covers the first 10-15 minutes of the film, so rest assured no spoilers have been revealed. You might not expect a comedy film like this to have "spoilers" per se, but indeed there are many moments in this film that work so much better if the audience doesn't see what's coming. One thing I should probably state right off the bat is that this movie is freaking hilarious! Fans of the first film will not be disappointed with this sequel as far as the humor is concerned, which is pretty much all that matters in films like this. The jokes are almost non-stop, and thankfully they're (mostly) a lot more inventive and clever than what we've seen in the trailers.

Having said that, I find that Ferrell has a tendency to over-do certain jokes and push the crudeness envelope to a slightly uncomfortable level. Anchorman 2 is no exception, and there are definitely moments where this film goes to crazy town. As funny as I feel this movie is, I don't think it's meant for all to enjoy equally. People over the age of 40 might not enjoy the style of humor as it's far more catered to the 20's and 30's crowd. That being said, they may understand some of the social commentary from the time period this movie is set, where that could just go over the heads of younger viewers.

It's surprisingly difficult to critique comedies, as to a certain extent they are the most subjective kinds of movies. Either you laugh at a joke or you don't, there's not really anything to judge beyond that. However, there are general story-telling nits I could pick in this film. Some of the subplots are completely arbitrary and seem thrown in without any intention beyond setting up gags. It also tends to lean a little too heavily on the reputation of its predecessor, relying on in-jokes and call-backs as opposed to creating new material.

Even with those criticisms thrown in, this is still a ridiculously fun time at the theater. It may be a little crude for some, but for fans of the original Anchorman, this film is pretty much all you could have asked for in a sequel. There are tons of hilarious cameos, clever exchanges and one-liners to the point that it will take multiple viewings to even process all of the humor intricately woven into this 2 hour comedy. It's not a perfect film by any means, but it's exactly what I expected and mostly what I hoped for. Time will tell how this sequel compares with the legacy of the original. I recommend Anchorman 2 and give it a very strong three stars.

ANCHORMAN 2 is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence