I always feel like comedies are a lot tougher to review than dramas. I think that it’s just easier to decide what was good and what was bad. Did it make you laugh? Yes or no. Okay… cool… there’s your answer.
But when it comes to comedy sequels, the good ones are so few and far between that this feels as goood a time as any to mention that I don’t remember laughing this hard in the theater since probably last year’s 21 Jump Street (and Horrible Bosses before that). It’s a worthy follow-up to one of the modern comedy classics and even if it takes another nine years, I wouldn’t bat an eye if we continued the legend of newsman Ron Burgundy in another film offering down the line.
Will Ferrell returns as Ron Burgundy and he is joined yet again by Paul Rudd (Brian Fantana), David Koechner (Champ Kind) and Steve Carell (Brick Tamland) as the News Team above all others. This time, they’ve graduated from the local San Diego news station and are off to the Big Apple to help kick-off a new venture: 24-hour news! For those of us in the two thousand and teens, this sounds like an everyday thing. But for Ron and his crew in the 80’s, it’s a bizarre concept and one that takes some getting used to. There’s actually some pretty spot-on social commentary about what news means and what it should entail and what we should expect from those that bring us the news and…
Ah, who am I kidding?!? You don’t care about any of that.
Is it funny?
In a word: Yes.
I really think it comes down to one very simple question: Did you like Anchorman? If you did, I can all but assure you that you will enjoy the second one. They do a very good job of mixing in new concepts and hilarious jokes with old standbys and references to the first film. For one, there’s a scene where Brick is about to go on a date so Brian shows off his rare condom collection (harkening back to the cologne scene from the first film). Is it dipping into the well a bit? Sure. But goddammit if it didn’t have me laughing like crazy. These guys know the way to my funny bone.
Ferrell remains as close to perfect as you can get as Ron Burgundy. You either get him or you don’t and Ferrell-opposers will find lots to dislike here. But who cares what they think! Despite my love for Ron, the highlight for me was Steve Carell as Brick. Carell totally could have been lazy and just dished out one-liners and cashed his much-larger-this-time-around paycheck. Instead, he bought in 100% to the character and by doing so, absolutely slayed me in the process. He is even given a love story – he finds someone equally as ridiculous as he is in the form of Kristen Wiig’s Chani. There is a scene where he gets upset at how Chani’s boss is speaking to her and his actions to show his displeasure just killed me. It’s not refined humor – it’s completely random and outlandish. And it’s fantastic. Props to Carell, for sure.
The rest of the group is given good stuff to work with too – just not as much. Rudd and Koechner get to shine when they can (Champ saying “Whammy” repetitively is about as funny as it gets in my opinion) and Christina Applegate returns as Veronica Corningstone, knocking it out of the park yet again. All of the newbies have varied levels of success. Harrison Ford really only gets one scene to stretch his comedic wings and he does a good job with it. If that scene was as awkward to film as it was to watch, then I feel bad for Applegate and Ferrell! James Marsden is exactly as I’d pictured – he is the Ken Doll opposite of Ron Burgundy and a worthy “villain” to replace Wes Mantooth from the first film. Also popping up is Greg Kinnear (hilarious), Meagan Good (a bit all over the place – the role seems to be written “as needed,” meaning she is whatever the movie needs her to be at that moment – if it needs her to be a Strong Black Woman that scares Brick, then she’s that; if it needs her to be oddly infatuated with Ron to make a love triangle and inevitable conflict with Veronica, you got it) and Kristen Wiig (a perfect counterpart to Carell’s Brick, Chani is like a culmination of Wiig’s many characters on SNL – the woman is brilliantly funny).
Unlike the first film, though, there were a couple things I had a slight issue with. The movie is two hours long. Now normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with MORE Ron Burgundy, but in this case, the film is lengthened due to a subplot that I found to be a little over-done and not as funny as the rest of the film. It got dragged on for about twenty more minutes than was necessary (it’s basically the equivalent to the homeless Ron phase from the first – and there’s no “Milk was a bad decision” moment, unless you count an absurdly funny song that features one of the most hilarious sad kid faces of all-time… that sentence will make much more sense if you’ve seen the movie!) which basically is what the film could have been shortened by. It just dragged a bit during that portion and I wanted them to resolve it much quicker than they did. It’s a small problem, really, and overall I get its role in the film… I just would have tightened up the editing a bit if it were me.
I don’t want to get into specific jokes or lines because that’s the worst kind of spoiling – hearing the lines for the first time is what makes us all hate trailers that give away all the funny parts. Trust me – the trailers, which varied from disappointing to stupendous, don’t give away much at all. And when Brick wears the green pants in front of the green screen and yells “93” when he sees the temperature located where his crotch is supposed to be… you’ll still laugh. Because it’s that funny. And I’m not even gonna come close to talking about the second anchorman brawl. Just know that the cameos are bigger and better this time around… just like the fight itself. I can’t wait to see it again.
As I said before, your enjoyment of the film revolves around your enjoyment of the first one. These characters, this type of humor – all of it – if it’s up your alley then head to the theater immediately and laugh your ass off for two hours. There are certainly worse ways to spend your Christmas holiday. And if it’s not – if a mustached newsman exclaiming “by the hymen of Olivia Newton-John” doesn’t make you snicker – then steer very clear… this movie is not made for you.
And as always… stay classy.