Dec 23, 2013
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Stay classy, mischief and mayhem! This long awaited sequel to the classic Anchorman is what we've come to expect from Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and producer Judd Apatow, a free-spirited romp through absurd humor, spiked social commentary and generous, madcap hilarity. What I love about Will Ferrell's comedies is that they are not mean spirited, and they are not dumb. There may be some risque material, but it never descends into vulgarity, and there is a hilarious ribbing of the casually racist mindset. They are mean towards whoever deserves it (racists, fast food joints, news channels, millionaires), but they have a wonderful spirit of bonhomie, quite the opposite from the painfully unfunny The Hangover series. Ferrell and McKay celebrate and send up American foolishness, but they aren't mean.
Ron Burgundy is a pompous idiot, yet he is adorable because in all his fakeness, he is genuine. He is ignorant and close minded, petty, jealous and a fool, but he means well. Quite inadvertently, he invents the 24-hour news cycle of watching car chases in real time while adding wild and clueless speculation to the proceedings. He is the involuntary genius behind mass media idiocy.
In his curmudgeonly review, A. O. Scott claims that only the French take these kinds of movies seriously. Well, the French are correct. These are the only big commercial movies in America that skewer what seriously needs making fun of. This time, it's the demented descent of American news into the gutter. Yet beyond making fun of certain quintessentially American inventions like Nascar, CNN, or political correctness, the Ferrell oeuvre usually and quite correctly presents America at its bombastic wackiest, and, as in all worthy comedy, what it makes fun of is important. These guys are great at mixing social satire with crazy, wacky fun. More power to them.
Anchorman 2 seems game to try everything, whether it lands or not. I love this spirit of playfulness. This time, the filmmakers seem to have gone for the surreal. There is a very funny visual gag of a Winnebago camper rolling in slow motion with the whole Burgundy team inside. And a nonsensical but moving business about bottle feeding a great white shark.
The old cast is back and are wonderful sports, but the one who kills is Steve Carell (in a welcome reprieve from his serious acting gigs) as weatherman Brick Tamland. His obtuseness is something out of Samuel Beckett's worst nightmares. Now he has a love interest, Chani, a like-minded soul (who looks just like Miranda July) played by the fabulous Kristen Wiig. Their shtick together is just bizarre.
I for one really hope that Anchorman 2 trounces The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the box office. I could care less about Middle Earth and its gazillion dollar special effects. I'd rather revel in the riotous costumes and feathery hairdos of Anchorman 2. If there is justice in the world, Susan Matheson, the costume designer for this film, should be nominated for an Academy Award. The clothes here are the absolute worst of late seventies couture; hence, they are magnificent.
This movie has even more of a sketch comedy quality than some of Ferrell and McKay's masterworks like Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers, but there are some very inspired set pieces. My favorite, which made me cry with laughter, has to do with Ron Burgundy going blind. Then, if I am not mistaken, this movie actually ends in tragedy. It's almost experimental, and it is lots of fun.