Synopsis: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opened this week bringing confident but thick news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) back to the big screen after a nine year absence. The first film made catchphrases like, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch,” and the names Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Champion “Champ” Kind (David Koechner) household words. In celebration of the return of the team from San Diego’s KVWN Channel 4 the Reel Guys have a look back at the career of funnyman Will Ferrell.
Richard: Mark, I think Will Ferrell is one of the bravest comedic actors working today; someone willing to do anything for a laugh. Trouble is, I often don’t laugh. Anchorman is laugh-out-loud funny. Ditto Elf and Old School, but sometimes I feel he has to rein the manic energy in, do half as much and maybe be twice as funny. Having said that, the Shark Week jokes in Step Brothers really make me giggle.
Mark: Richard, I share your ambivalence toward Ferrell. He’s not my go-to guy for funny. Still, he’s done some great work. My favourite Will Ferrell movies are two indie films he’s starred in: Stranger Than Fiction and Everything Must Go. They’re the equivalent of Jim Carrey’s work in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Maybe not huge crowd pleasers, but they show the true breadth of his talent.
RC: I agree. I think Stranger Than Fiction is worth a rental. It’s touching and funny, which for me is Ferrell’s sweet spot. A Night at the Roxbury is a silly comedy but Ferrell’s wide-eyed performance is the kind of thing I like from him. Outrageous, yes, but underneath the silly is a real guy. Sometimes I can’t see the real guy underneath his characters and those are his movies that don’t work for me. Except Zoolander. As fashion guru Mugatu he’s so strange he dares you not to laugh at him.
MB: Yes, he’s sometimes better in a supporting role in which his over-the-top zaniness doesn’t sink the whole picture. Mugatu for sure, but also the mattress salesman in The Internship or Franz in The Producers. But generally, I find his man-child jock character wearying. Which is why, I think, Anchorman is such a successful movie. It’s a Will Ferrell movie for people who don’t care for Will Ferrell movies. Did you enjoy the sequel, Richard?
RC: I did. I think there is a lot of life left in Ron Burgundy. It’s funny in an outrageous way. It’s a bit too long, (and don’t bother sitting through to the post credit scene unless you find the sight of Steve Carell eating cookies hilarious) but the buffoonery level is high in a season where serious drama seems to be the ticket.
In the last couple of weeks I have seen Ferrell, in character, sit in on some local newscasts and he fit right in. As long as there is media, egomaniac announcers and local news, there will be a place for Ron Burgundy.
MB: Yes, but let’s not forget he’s supported by a stellar cast of comic actors: Paul Rudd, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Wiig. Even if Ferrell isn’t your cup of tea, it’s hard to believe this movie won’t work.
It’s been ten years since we first met Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), a San Diego newscaster who claims he was put on earth to do two things, “have salon quality hair and read the news.” With his extreme news team—field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and bizarro weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell)—he ruled the local airwaves.
This time around the stakes are much bigger. Relocated to New York City, Burgundy and company are set to change the face of news in a film that almost plays like a comedic version of “Network.” Almost… but not quite.
At the dawn of the 1980s Ron Burgundy’s best days seem to be behind him. His marriage implodes when his wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) becomes the first female national news host. He hits the bottle, stops combing his perfect hair and it looks like his career is over until he’s recruited to join the anchor team at the newly formed Global News Network, the first 24-hour news channel.
He takes the job, but first insists on reuniting his old team, Blues Brothers style. With Champ, Brick and Brian on board they prepare to take New York by storm, but first they have to out do and out perform hot shot anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden).
Cobbling together a newscast made up of car chases, cat videos and Fox News style patriotism they inadvertently give birth to a new style of news.
As their ratings rise, so do questions of journalistic ethics. And that’s the first hour. Beyond that the movie is so demented I don’t want to give away any more plot points.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” brings with it a fair amount of goodwill. People love the original and the audience I saw the new one with laughed at almost everything that came out of Ferrell’s mouth.
For the first hour. Then the movie’s faults begin to show.
The opening sixty minutes feel like a worthy, although not quite as quotable, revisiting of the first movie. There’s nothing as memorable as, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…” but you’ll laugh, especially if you’re a fan of the original.
You’ll also laugh in the second hour, but it feels less like a film than a series of connected sketches. The plot veers around wildly, again delivering giggles, but in a rambling way that doesn’t feel like the first half. It tries hard to make a statement about early 1980s race relations and for a short while Ferrell channels his inner Howard Beale to comment on the erosion of the quality of news reporting.
Sounds more nuanced than it actually is. Despite the social commentary, this is still the kind of movie where Burgundy goes temporarily blind, hand feeds a baby shark and engages in hand-to-hand combat with rival news teams.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is funny in an outrageous way. It’s a bit too long, (and don’t bother sitting through to the post credit scene unless you find the sight of Steve Carell eating cookies hilarious) but the buffoonery level is high in a season where serious drama seems to be the ticket.