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Entertainment & Lifestyle

While not as fresh as first, ‘Anchorman 2’ has laughs

12/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate star in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” like its predecessor, is a movie about idiots. Its main character is an idiot. The main character’s friends and enemies are idiots. Even the people who don’t appear to be idiots should be classified as such, since they put their trust in — or pledge their love to — the supreme idiot, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell).

Continuing this theme, I’ll freely admit that my main criticism of “Anchorman 2” is pretty idiotic: Why do the things that felt fresh in the first movie feel less so in this one, when we see them again with slight variations?

There is a lot of funny stuff in “Anchorman 2,” more gut-busting flights of weirdness that were the hallmark of the first movie, which came out in 2004. But the original “Anchorman” had the advantage of being, well, original, and the sequel can’t help but feel a little “been-there-coiffed-that.”

It is the dawn of the 1980s, and newsreader Ron Burgundy, he of the salon-quality hair, is teamed with his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), on a network’s weekend newscast. But their career paths diverge and the family splinters when Corningstone receives a lucrative job offer. The event sets Burgundy off on a downward spiral, the latest in a long series of downward spirals.

But Lady Luck shines on Burgundy when he is recruited by an organization with a strange new concept — a 24-hour cable news network. He takes the gig and reforms his old news team — sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). With the possible exception of Fantana, none of them possess enough brain cells to steer a mouse through a moderately difficult maze, but somehow they will leave their mark on TV news.

The movie, co-written by Ferrell and Adam McKay (who also directed), takes some jabs at the vapidity of modern-day TV news. But this is not an issues movie. It’s a movie where Tamland can suddenly start acting like a raptor. Grown men burst into hysterics reading a Garfield book. The chicken sold in a chicken restaurant is something decidingly nonpoultry. The movie is bursting with nonsense, and when it works, it’s a thing of beauty.

Of the supporting cast, the MVPs are Carell and Kristen Wiig as Chani, another “Anchorman 2” character who won’t be invited to join Mensa. (Rather than handing phone messages to her boss, she mails them to her.) She and Tamland hit it off, and their romance is equal parts sweet and disturbing.

Ferrell is once again terrific as Burgundy, who, like many of his old “Saturday Night Live” characters, is a self-centered, overly self-confident dolt with delusions of grandeur. For Burgundy, personal growth happens at a snail’s pace, but it does happen. It doesn’t always happen in the funniest way, though — neither his attempts to bond with his young son (Judah Nelson) or his efforts to work through his racial insensitivity issues (his boss, played by Meagan Good, is African American) are movie highlights.

Nor is a reprise of the first movie’s looniest scene, which is exponentially larger and more star-studded this time around. “Anchorman 2” is not a lazy movie — you can see there are great comedic minds at work. But they had a tough act to follow.

The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.

2 and 1/2 stars (out of four)

 

Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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