The first time I saw Anchorman I didn’t really get into it. I didn’t necessarily dislike it, I was just indifferent to it. For people that know me, that may seem crazy considering I can damn-near quote the entire film now, but I suppose I was just too young to understand the ingenious pointlessness of it. (Plus, I saw it with a girlfriend and was most likely making out through the entire thing… #realtalk).
Anchorman is misleadingly clever in that the juvenile nature of it is actually pretty brilliant comedy. The characters are silly and ridiculous, but the world around them is silly and ridiculous as well. It’s different than, say, Dumb and Dumber (which, itself, gets a sequel next year), where the comedy is about how two idiots react to certain situations while the world around them is normal. Anchorman is closer to Austin Powers in that the main characters aren’t normal, but the world around them isn’t really normal either. They’re both satirical in a way. And much like Austin Powers, the sequel just doesn’t hit like the original.
The basic premise is that Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone are doing the weekend news in New York and when Veronica gets a promotion but Ron gets fired by his life-long anchor hero, Mack Harken (played perfectly by Harrison Ford, who doesn’t even need to act to be funny), Ron and Veronica fall apart and Ron leaves town. As he’s once again hitting rock bottom, he’s approached by a representative for a new 24 hour news network who wants him to bring his special brand of classy to their network. Ron sets out to get the team back together and they make they’re way to New York to join the network where they make a significantly bigger impact than anyone expects them too.
The whole team is back with Ron… Brian, Champ, and, of course, Brick. Steve Carell’s performance is absolutely the most consistently funny part of the whole movie. From the first scene where he eulogizes himself at his own funeral, through every scene he shares with Kristen Wiig, who plays his equally dumb and awkward love interest. I mean, they all do a great job, but if there’s a “show stealer” here, it’s Brick.
Whereas the first movie dealt with the teams inability to deal with women in the newsroom, the social issue… we’ll say “touched on” here, because it’s not really a HUGE part of the plot necessarily, is race. When the team gets to New York they are introduced to their boss who is played by the lovely Meagan Good. Not only is their new boss a woman, but she is a strong black woman and these guys don’t have a good track record for being sensitive.
The movie also deals with Ron’s struggle to be a good father. He and Veronica share 6 year old boy and she has a new man in her life, played by Greg Kinnear (who is massively underrated as an actor) and the best ponytail I’ve ever seen in a movie. Ron desperately wants to be able to be a positive role model for his son but his selfishness and passion for the news makes that difficult. After suffering an accident that leaves him unable to continue doing the news, he becomes a recluse and lives alone in a lighthouse. Veronica and their son come to help rehabilitate him.
There’s also a theme that runs along the movie about the mass-consumption of news and how somewhere along the way, EVERYTHING became news. I suppose you could call it a political statement, in a way, but it’s really more of a social commentary on how we just devour every bit of information presented to us as legitimate and we don’t really think for ourselves.
I don’t want to give too much more away for fear of ruining the film for you. Suffice to say… The last 30 minutes of this movie is probably one of the greatest and most amazing things in all of comedic film. It is absolutely, positively, mind-bottling. The movie may trudge along some but, I promise you, the pay off is WELL worth it.
Just as a helpful piece of advice, if you haven’t seen the first Anchorman, you will want to watch it before seeing this. There are some jokes and references that won’t make sense to you if you haven’t. BUT… if you HAVE seen Anchorman, I recommended that you DO NOT watch it again before checking out Anchorman 2. I did it. I watched Anchorman the night before and that may have affected my ability to watch the new one without being biased.
Another really interesting thing is that director Adam McKay has said that they actually filmed alternate jokes for every single scene, so the best moments from the trailers aren’t actually in the film because they’re replaced with BETTER jokes, and they could feasibly re-edit the film to be COMPLETELY different. Which would be unprecedented in film if they actually did that. When Anchorman came out, they had shot enough footage to make a completely separate film, “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie”, but that was still pretty much the same as the original rather than a “sequel”. Even though the possibility of a third film is still too early to speculate on, it’s possible that we could get another, completely different, version of Anchorman 2.
Let me wrap this up by touching back to what I said in the beginning… I didn’t LOVE Anchorman the first time I saw it. It had to grow on me some. This may very well be the case with Anchorman 2. (Also, I wasn’t making out through the whole thing this time. I saw this one with my co-workers, and I’m sure my pal Louis probably wouldn’t appreciate me spreading those rumors about me and him…) Upon first viewing, it just doesn’t seem to have the same bite that the first one had. The quotable nature of Anchorman is pretty much unrivaled in cinema. Hopefully people will be able to appreciate this one for what it is and not for what we wish it was. It definitely expands on the silliness of the characters in a great way, but it has moments that seem fairly expendable. Honestly, Anchorman already is everything you could want in an Anchorman movie. This sequel won’t live up to your expectations, but it certainly won’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth either.
You Stay Classy Nerds.