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‘Anchorman 2’ broadcasts scattershot laughs

By Frank Ruggiero (frank@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Dec. 24, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 24, 2013
‘Anchorman 2’ broadcasts scattershot laughs

From left, David Koechner, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell star in ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.’



When Will Ferrell appeared in character on “Conan” to announce an “Anchorman” sequel, fans knew this was kind of a big deal.

So did the studios, which wasted no time in devising a marketing blitzkrieg, armed with teaser trailers, product tie-ins, a fictitious autobiography, countless commercials, talk show appearances and then some.

And most of them, admittedly, were pretty dang funny.

But is “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” worth its hype? How could it be? But it’s still a fun, if not unbalanced (narratively and figuratively), time at the movies.

Like its predecessor, “Anchorman 2” is scattershot, delivering a paper-thin plot buried beneath hilarious performances and hijinks. The sequel, however, is decidedly more pointed, with director Adam McKay (“The Other Guys”) setting his satirical sights on mainstream televised media. Like so, McKay has picked the perfect weapon for the job: Ron Burgundy.

Set in 1980, the film finds Burgundy (Will Ferrell, “Casa de Mi Padre”) at rock bottom. After losing his job and spurning his wife (Christina Applegate, “Married… with Children”), he desperately takes a job emceeing — quite drunkenly — at Sea World.

Fortunately (for Sea World), this doesn’t last very long. He’s recruited for a revolutionary endeavor in broadcast news — the 24-hour news station. Called GNN, the concept is met with scorn and skepticism by established news outlets, most wondering how a station can come up with enough material to fill a 24-hour cycle.

That’s where Burgundy comes in, along with his crackerjack news team of oddball personalities — Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, “This Is 40,”), Champ Kind (David Koechner, TV’s “The Office”) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).

Since their last adventure, Fantana has become the nation’s leading cat photographer, Champ has opened a horrifying line of fried chicken restaurants that serves bat to cut corners, and Brick is thoroughly convinced that he, himself, is dead. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much to convince them to leave their newfound livelihoods (and deadlihood).

But life at GNN isn’t going to be easy. Relegated to the 2 a.m. news slot, Burgundy and crew must find a way to make their ratings pop. At a haphazard brainstorming session, the team decides to give viewers what they want, rather than what they need.

That includes feature stories on America’s greatness and cute animals, exposés on bodily fluids in motel rooms, play-by-play coverage of high-speed car chases, a series of continuous sports highlights and reporting that could be called speculative at best.

Although it could change the very face of televised news, they enthusiastically run with it — and to astonishing success.

Once again, Ron Burgundy becomes a household name, although what comes up must come down. So the formula goes.

While “Anchorman 2” falls victim to a combination of predictability, recycled material and a bloated run-time, fans of the original wanting more of the same won’t be disappointed. In some instances — and this may be one of them — more of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The dialogue is hysterical, an impromptu musical number is tonally triumphant, and the non sequiturs return in full force. Oh, and there are cameos aplenty.

At its best, the film plays like a series of loosely connected sketches, which serve to showcase the comedic chops of its talented cast.

Most of the jokes hit home, and some miss their mark, but one thing is clear: everyone involved is having a great time, and the fun is contagious.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.


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